Predictors and outcomes in primary depression care (POKAL) – a research training group develops an innovative approach to collaborative care

for the POKAL group

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Background: The interdisciplinary research training group (POKAL) aims to improve care for patients with depression and multimorbidity in primary care. POKAL includes nine projects within the framework of the Chronic Care Model (CCM). In addition, POKAL will train young (mental) health professionals in research competences within primary care settings. POKAL will address specific challenges in diagnosis (reliability of diagnosis, ignoring suicidal risks), in treatment (insufficient patient involvement, highly fragmented care and inappropriate long-time anti-depressive medication) and in implementation of innovations (insufficient guideline adherence, use of irrelevant patient outcomes, ignoring relevant context factors) in primary depression care. Methods: In 2021 POKAL started with a first group of 16 trainees in general practice (GPs), pharmacy, psychology, public health, informatics, etc. The program is scheduled for at least 6 years, so a second group of trainees starting in 2024 will also have three years of research-time. Experienced principal investigators (PIs) supervise all trainees in their specific projects. All projects refer to the CCM and focus on the diagnostic, therapeutic, and implementation challenges. Results: The first cohort of the POKAL research training group will develop and test new depression-specific diagnostics (hermeneutical strategies, predicting models, screening for suicidal ideation), treatment (primary-care based psycho-education, modulating factors in depression monitoring, strategies of de-prescribing) and implementation in primary care (guideline implementation, use of patient-assessed data, identification of relevant context factors). Based on those results the second cohort of trainees and their PIs will run two major trials to proof innovations in primary care-based a) diagnostics and b) treatment for depression. Conclusion: The research and training programme POKAL aims to provide appropriate approaches for depression diagnosis and treatment in primary care.

Original languageEnglish
Article number309
JournalBMC primary care
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2022


  • Chronic care model (CCM)
  • Depression
  • Multimorbidity
  • Primary care
  • Research training group


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