Wayne Katon, vice chair of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences and a pioneer in collaborative mental health care, died March 1 from lymphoma. He was 64.
“Wayne was truly a great human being, a mensch, a dear friend, a generous mentor and a wonderful colleague to so many of us,” said Jürgen Unützer, UW professor and chair of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences in a letter to colleagues. For more than 35 years, Unützer said, Katon worked graciously and tirelessly to improve the lives of those living with mental and physical health problems.
“Along the way, he touched and inspired thousands of students, residents and faculty colleagues at UW and around the world,” Unützer said.
Recognizing that people with physical pain often suffer from depression, and that people who were depressed rarely received mental health care, Katon brought together the practices of psychiatry and primary care. He spent three decades testing and developing models of care to make mental health care more accessible.
That work led to the April 5, 1995, publication of his seminal paper in the Journal of the American Medical Association: "Collaborative Management to Achieve Treatment Guidelines Impact on Depression in Primary Care." Katon and colleagues showed that a collaborative intervention involving a psychiatrist working with primary-care physicians significantly improved patients' adherence to medication, depressive outcomes and satisfaction with care. More than 80 randomized controlled trials around the world have validated this approach since then.
He inspired thousands of students, residents and faculty colleagues
Dr. Katon was a plenary speaker at the first CFHA conference 20 years ago and at least two subsequent meetings. His research arguably forms the foundation for collaborative care. He will posthumously be awarded the 2015 Distinguished Service Award from the American Psychiatric Association for a lifetime of outstanding contributions to the field of psychiatry. The Wayne Katon Memorial Fund has been established to support the next generation of physician students in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences.