Improving primary care for patients with depression

10 May 2021

New DFG-funded Graduate School includes 16 pre-doctoral fellowships in a novel research and training program.

As life expectancy continues to rise, the age structure of the population is shifting, and the proportion of elderly individuals is increasing. The downside of this trend is that the fraction of patients with multiple chronic diseases is also growing. This in turn means that the incidence of psychological disorders is increasing – especially that of various forms of depression, which often follow a more complex course in the elderly. These developments confront family doctors in particular with unfamiliar challenges. As the primary providers of healthcare, they are also the first port of call for patients with multiple disorders (comorbidities), often including depressions.

In order to redress this situation, physicians based at LMU and the Technical University of Munich (TUM) have now developed a concept for a new Graduate School. Its purpose is to provide new generations of doctors with the know-how needed to deal more effectively with the problems outlined above. The Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG) will provide 5 million euros in funding for the School over the coming 5 years. The major aim of the medical professionals directly involved in the project on “Predictors and Clinical Indicators of Depressive Disorders in the Context of Primary Care” (the acronym ‘POKAL’ is derived from the original German title) is to enable depressive illnesses in the elderly to be accurately diagnosed and appropriately treated at the earliest possible stage.

The School is principally interested in recruiting candidates from the fields of general medicine, psychology, pharmacology, and the health and nursing sciences. Those who intend to work in primary care can carry out their doctoral research in parallel with their specialist medical training. The Graduate School is now advertising these 16 pre-doctoral positions. Further information on the Graduate School itself, on how to apply for these fellowships, and how to register for an online event on 11. May 2021, which describes the new program are available here.

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