Impetus – collaborative ICT based platform for late life depression

Late life depression often remains undiagnosed or gets diagnosed with significant delay. The depression is often a psychological reaction to a variety of aging phenomena. Impetus analyses the requirements for a collaborative platform for easing or preventing late life depression and specifies a model of interactions between the care actors and ICT-based services for depression.

Based on the model Impetus develops scenarios, research questions and recommendations for a subsequent project. Impetus aims at new approaches for identifying risk factors for depression in elderly people, at an early stage and supporting people with depression by personalised, age-adequate interventions.

There are significant shortcomings in the treatment and care of mental health problems in older people. Depression is the second-most frequent type of mental illness for older people. The limitations that come with old age, such as reduced mobility, increasing number of comorbidities, changing living conditions (e.g. loss of autonomy, loss of family members) are often the cause of depression for older people. This is different to suffering from depression at a younger age. A compounding factor is that late life depressions often remain undiagnosed or are diagnosed with some delay. Against that background the European Commission recommends the development and implementation of integrated models of care covering specific interventions for different disorders to support old people.

Impetus analyses the requirements for a collaborative ICT based platform for late life depression by involving old people suffering from depression, as well as their formal and informal care givers and health care professionals. Impetus aims

  • at identifying risk factors at an early stage by including supporting care givers
  • at specifying a low-threshold and modular services that suit the patient
  • at strengthening the individual resources and self-management skills of older people through ICT-based interventions for supporting therapy on a personalised level, thus improving their resilience to depression.

The research method of Impetus comprises of four steps starting with a literature review about relevant criteria regarding late life depression and the care process. Typically, women are twice as likely to suffer from depression than men. Hence, Impetus will put an explicit focus on gender aspects. The results will be augmented by user surveys with a focus on the Austrian conditions. Based on these findings, technological requirements for a collaborative platform will be analysed. These will include factors such as available patient data in relevant eHealth applications for identifying risk factors, web-based intervention applications and ICT-based self-management concepts. The result will be an interaction model depicting the relations between the users of the platform and ICT-based services of the platform. This will be the basis for developing scenarios in the next step describing different phases in the care process supported by ICT services. In line with the purpose of an exploratory project (“Sondierung”) we will formulate research questions and recommendations that can serve as the baseline for a subsequent, larger scale project, aimed at implementing a first full version the envisaged type of platform.