Document Type

DNP Project

Publication Date


Degree Name

Doctor of Nursing Practice

Faculty Advisor


Practice Mentor

Constance Glenn, DNP, MSN, APRN, FNP-BC, CNE

Second Practice Mentor

Dara Richards MD, FAAP


Significance and Background: Depression is a widespread and debilitating mental health condition that is often underdiagnosed and undertreated, especially in primary care settings. The importance of early detection and intervention for depression in preventing adverse outcomes and improving patient well-being is not consistently recognized. This DNP project addresses this gap by implementing a standardized depression screening protocol in primary care.

Purpose: This project aims to assess the achievability and efficiency of implementing a depression screening protocol in a primary care clinic to improve the identification and management of depression among patients.

Methods: Plan-Do-Study-Act. Plan: A depression screening protocol was developed using evidence-based guidelines tailored to the FQHC’s needs and resources. Do: An educational session was conducted for the healthcare team (providers, nurses, and medical assistants) to facilitate protocol implementation. Study: Data was gathered on depression screening rates from January 2023 to June 2023, as well as positive screens and if any intervention/management occurred following a positive screen. Act: Present data to organizational stakeholders.

Outcome: Over an 8-week implementation period, there were a total of 4,707 patients eligible for a depression screening assessment using the PHQ-9. Of those eligible patients, 2,958 (63%) received the PHQ-9 depression screen, and 309 (10%) had a positive screen. Of those 309 with a positive screen, 112 (36%) received an intervention. Findings indicate a significant increase in the identification of depression among patients following the implementation of the screening protocol. The screening protocol was feasible and sustainable within the primary care setting, with minimal workflow disruption.

Discussion: The successful implementation of a depression screening protocol in primary care can improve patient outcomes, reduce healthcare costs, and enhance the overall quality of care provided to patients in the community. However, monitoring and evaluating patients is essential to ensure continued effectiveness and sustainability.


Lemel, S. (2024). Implementing a depression screening protocol in primary care to improve utilization rates: A quality improvement project [Unpublished DNP project]. Sacred Heart University.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-Share Alike 4.0 International License.

Available for download on Tuesday, April 15, 2025

Included in

Nursing Commons