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Original Research

Reducing Dropout in Treatment for Depression: Translating Dropout Predictors Into Individualized Treatment Recommendations

Sigal Zilcha-Mano, PhD; John R. Keefe, MA; Harold Chui, PhD; Avinadav Rubin, MA; Marna S. Barrett, PhD; and Jacques P. Barber, PhD

Published: December 28, 2016

Article Abstract

Objective: Premature discontinuation of therapy is a widespread problem that hampers the delivery of mental health treatment. A high degree of variability has been found among rates of premature treatment discontinuation, suggesting that rates may differ depending on potential moderators. In the current study, our aim was to identify demographic and interpersonal variables that moderate the association between treatment assignment and dropout.

Methods: Data from a randomized controlled trial conducted from November 2001 through June 2007 (N = 156) comparing supportive-expressive therapy, antidepressant medication, and placebo for the treatment of depression (based on DSM-IV criteria) were used. Twenty prerandomization variables were chosen based on previous literature. These variables were subjected to exploratory bootstrapped variable selection and included in the logistic regression models if they passed variable selection.

Results: Three variables were found to moderate the association between treatment assignment and dropout: age, pretreatment therapeutic alliance expectations, and the presence of vindictive tendencies in interpersonal relationships. When patients were divided into those randomly assigned to their optimal treatment and those assigned to their least optimal treatment, dropout rates in the optimal treatment group (24.4%) were significantly lower than those in the least optimal treatment group (47.4%; P = .03).

Conclusions: Present findings suggest that a patient’s age and pretreatment interpersonal characteristics predict the association between common depression treatments and dropout rate. If validated by further studies, these characteristics can assist in reducing dropout through targeted treatment assignment.

Trial Registration: Secondary analysis of data from identifier: NCT00043550

Volume: 77

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