Improving Patients' Beliefs About Antidepressants in Primary Care: A Cluster-Randomized Controlled Trial of the Effect of a Depression Care Program



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Objectives: Many depressed patients have negative beliefs about antidepressants, leading to poor adherence, unfavorable depression outcome, and low perceived well-being, role functioning, and quality of life. Interventions to ameliorate beliefs are therefore needed.

Method: In a cluster-randomized controlled trial conducted from September 1999 to January 2001, 2 interventions to improve management of major depressive disorder in primary care were compared: (1) a depression care program (DCP), providing enhanced patient education, stimulation of active participation of general practitioners and patients in the treatment process, discussion of benefits and costs of taking antidepressant medication, and systematic follow-up and (2) a systematic follow-up program (SFP). Thirty general practitioners were randomly assigned, and 211 patients with current major depressive disorder (diagnosed according to DSM-IV) were included. All patients were prescribed a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor. Beliefs were assessed at baseline, at week 10, and at week 26. Differences in change of beliefs between DCP and SFP groups were analyzed.

Results: Changes in patients' beliefs were more favorable in the DCP condition at week 10 and week 26, compared with SFP only (beliefs concerning appropriate medication-taking, week 10: effect size = 0.39, p = .012; week 26: effect size = 0.55, p = .001; beliefs concerning harmfulness, week 10: effect size = 0.45, p = .011; week 26: effect size = 0.62, p = .002).

Conclusions: The depression care program ameliorates beliefs about antidepressants in primary care patients with major depressive disorder. The study results encourage the implementation of a depression care program in order to improve beliefs about antidepressant medication in primary care patients diagnosed with major depressive disorder.

Prim Care Companion J Clin Psychiatry 2009;11(2):48-52