Increasing Use of Mental Health Services


The purpose of this study is to test the effectiveness of Open Door (previously known as the Treatment Initiation Program [TIP]), a brief psychosocial intervention to address the psychological barriers to care and improve the use of mental health services by depressed community elderly. The intervention is designed to help the older adult identify the barriers, problem-solve to find solutions and mobilize the motivation to seek help. Open Door was developed to work collaboratively with an older adult who is depressed to improve access and adherence to mental health treatment.

Full Title of Study: “Increasing Use of Mental Health Services by Community Dwelling Adults With Depression”

Study Type

  • Study Type: Interventional
  • Study Design
    • Allocation: Randomized
    • Intervention Model: Parallel Assignment
    • Primary Purpose: Supportive Care
    • Masking: Single (Participant)
  • Study Primary Completion Date: January 2014

Detailed Description

The primary aim of this research study did not change from the original application; it is to conduct a randomized controlled trial of the effectiveness of a brief, psychosocial intervention on engagement in mental health care among homebound depressed older adults. Engagement is defined as accepting a referral and attending a visit with a provider who could provide traditional mental health care (medication or psychotherapy). The intervention, now called Open Door, was developed to work collaboratively with an older adult who has depressive symptoms to address the barriers to care with the aim of helping them consider a referral and engage in mental health care. In prior research, this intervention has been found to improve treatment participation, reduce depressive symptoms and increase adherence to antidepressant therapy among depressed older adults in primary care and outpatient psychiatric settings. We propose that Open Door will improve the access to mental health care by reducing psychological barriers, providing education about care, and managing the resignation associated with the symptoms of depression among community dwelling depressed elders. Additionally, we believe that despite the heterogeneity of mental health care that may be received, Open Door will be associated with reduced depressive symptoms by empowering the older adult to initiate care for him/herself.


  • Behavioral: Open Door intervention
    • Open Door intervention subjects will: receive an evaluation receive a referral to a local mental health provider identify barriers, set goals and problem-solve to achieve a mental health evaluation using available resources.

Arms, Groups and Cohorts

  • Active Comparator: Open Door Intervention
    • Subjects who receive the Open Door Intervention will work with the study counselor to identify barriers to participation in mental health treatment, set goals, and problem-solve, in addition to receiving a referral.
  • No Intervention: Services Referral
    • Subjects who do not receive the Open Door intervention will receive: an evaluation referral to a local mental health provider booklet information on depression and mental health care, and will complete an application for HEAP, a Westchester County service that provides reduced rates from oil companies on heating to seniors.

Clinical Trial Outcome Measures

Primary Measures

  • The Primary Outcome is Engagement Defined as at Least One Visit With a Mental Health Provider Who Can Offer Treatment of Depression.
    • Time Frame: 12 and 24 weeks
    • Engagement was defined as at least one visit with a mental health provider, due to the fact that in some treatment settings, the initial evaluation and the onset of treatment both took place in the first visit. The primary outcome, engagement, was counted if the participant had engaged in mental health treatment by EITHER 12 weeks OR 24 weeks, based on research suggesting that older adults may take up to 6 months to follow through on a referral. Therefore, while there is only a single primary outcome (engaged or not), it could be fulfilled at either of the two follow-up time points, at 12 or 24 weeks.

Participating in This Clinical Trial

Inclusion Criteria

  • Age 60 years and older
  • Homebound
  • Endorse depressive symptoms

Exclusion Criteria

  • Presence of significant alcohol or substance abuse or psychotic disorder
  • High suicide risk, i.e. intent or plan to attempt suicide
  • Cognitive impairment
  • Inability to speak English
  • Aphasia interfering with communication.
  • Current use of antidepressants or psychotherapy

Gender Eligibility: All

Minimum Age: 60 Years

Maximum Age: 90 Years

Are Healthy Volunteers Accepted: No

Investigator Details

  • Lead Sponsor
    • Weill Medical College of Cornell University
  • Provider of Information About this Clinical Study
    • Principal Investigator: Jo Anne Sirey, Associate Professor – Weill Medical College of Cornell University
  • Overall Official(s)
    • Jo Anne Sirey, Ph.D., Principal Investigator, Weill Medical College of Cornell University


Sirey JA, Bruce ML, Alexopoulos GS. The Treatment Initiation Program: an intervention to improve depression outcomes in older adults. Am J Psychiatry. 2005 Jan;162(1):184-6.

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