Depression Training Program for Eye Health and Rehabilitation Professionals

Rees, Gwyneth*; Mellor, David*; Heenan, Matthew; Fenwick, Eva; Keeffe, Jill E.*; Marella, Manjula§; Lamoureux, Ecosse L.*

doi: 10.1097/OPX.0b013e3181df5286
Original Article

Purpose. Depression often remains undetected in people with vision impairment. This study aimed to determine the effectiveness of a depression training program on practitioners' confidence, perceived barriers, and their likelihood of responding to depression in patients with vision impairment.

Methods. This study was a pre and post single group evaluation involving 36 eye health and rehabilitation practitioners. Three 1.5-h group training sessions were held once a week for 3 consecutive weeks. The modules covered (1) understanding depression, (2) detecting depressive symptoms, and (3) developing and implementing referral pathways. Three main outcome measures were assessed: confidence in working with patients who may be depressed; perceived barriers to the recognition and management of depression; and likelihood of responding to depression.

Results. The training significantly improved practitioners' confidence and reduced perceived barriers to managing depression (p < 0.001). After training, participants were significantly more likely to respond to depression in their patients (p < 0.001).

Conclusions. This preliminary study found that a brief training program is effective in increasing practitioners' ability to respond to depression in patients with vision impairment. Further work is required to determine whether these effects are sustained over time and result in improved recognition and management of depression in people with vision impairment.


BaSC (Hons)



Centre for Eye Research Australia, the Royal Victorian Eye and Ear Hospital, University of Melbourne, Victoria, Australia (GR, EF, JEK, MM, ELL), and School of Psychology, Deakin University, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia (DM, MH).

This project was supported by beyondblue: the national depression initiative.

Received January 21, 2010; accepted February 19, 2010.

© 2010 American Academy of Optometry