eHealth-supported case management for patients with panic disorder or depression in primary care: Study protocol for a cRCT (PREMA)

Karoline Lukaschek, Karola Mergenthal, Dirk Heider, A. Hanke, Kathrein Munski, Anne Moschner, Michelle Emig, M. van den Akker, Antonia Zapf, K. Wegscheider, Hans-Helmut Koenig, Jochen Gensichen*, Dreischulte, M. Emig, J. Gensichen, F. M. Gerlach, M. Hanf, D. Heider, A. Held, H. H. KonigK. Lukaschek, K. Mergenthal, A. Moschner, K. Munski, T. Natalello, K. Rupp, J. Schelling, S. Schlussel, Wallraff, A. Zapf, PREMA-study group

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Background: Panic disorder (PD), frequently occurring with agoraphobia (AG), and depression are common mental disorders in primary care and associated with considerable individual and societal costs. Early detection and effective treatment of depression and PD/AG are of major importance. Cognitive behavioural exposure exercises have been shown to be effective in reducing anxiety and depressive symptoms. Practice team-based case management can improve clinical outcomes for patients with chronic diseases in primary care. The present study aims at evaluating the effects and cost-effectiveness of a primary care team-based intervention using behavioural therapy elements and case management supported by eHealth components in patients with PD/AG or depression compared to treatment as usual.

Methods/design: This is a two-arm cluster-randomized, controlled trial (cRCT). General practices represent the units of randomisation. General practitioners recruit adult patients with depression and PD +/- AG according to the International Classification of Diseases, version 10 (ICD-10). In the intervention group, patients receive cognitive behaviour therapy-oriented psychoeducation and instructions to self-managed exposure exercises in four manualbased appointments with the general practitioner. A trained health care assistant from the practice team delivers case management and is continuously monitoring symptoms and treatment progress in ten protocol-based telephone contacts with patients. Practice teams and patients are supported by eHealth components. In the control group, patients receive usual care from general practitioners. Outcomes are measured at baseline (T0), at follow-up after 6 months (T1), and at follow-up after 12 months (T2). The primary outcome is the mental health status of patients as measured by the Mental Health Index (MHI-5). Effect sizes of 0.2 standard deviation (SD) are regarded as relevant. Assuming a drop-out rate of 20% of practices and patients each, we aim at recruiting 1844 patients in 148 primary care practices. This corresponds to 12.5 patients on average per primary care practice. Secondary outcomes include depression and anxiety-related clinical parameters and health-economic costs.

Discussion: If the intervention is more effective than treatment as usual, the three-component (cognitive behaviour therapy, case-management, eHealth) primary care-based intervention for patients suffering from PD/AG or depression could be a valuable low-threshold option that benefits patients and primary care practice teams.

Trial registration: German clinical trials register, DRKS00016622. Registered on February 22nd, 2019.

Original languageEnglish
Article number662
Number of pages11
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2 Dec 2019




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