Project IMPACT: Improving Mood – Promoting Access to Collaborative Treatment for Late-Life Depression

Project IMPACT was launched in 1999 with a multi-site clinical trial to test a collaborative approach to treating late-life depression in primary care settings. The project—eight grants totaling $11 million over five years—received $8 million from the Hartford Foundation and $3 million from other funders including the Hogg Foundation, the California Healthcare Foundation and The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

“Most older adults with depression show up in the office of a primary care doctor because they’re comfortable in that setting and that’s where they get the rest of their health care,” says Jürgen Unützer, MD, MPH, Professor and Vice-Chair, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, University of Washington, Seattle, who led the initiative. Yet primary care physicians are not the best qualified health care providers to treat depression. They have limited time and competing priorities. Only one in five older adults treated for depression in primary care improves.