Journal of General Internal Medicine

, Volume 15, Issue 8, pp 527–534 | Cite as

Treatment preferences among depressed primary care patients

  • Megan Dwight-JohnsonEmail author
  • Cathy D. Sherbourne
  • Diana Liao
  • Kenneth B. Wells
Original Articles


OBJECTIVE: To understand patient factors that may affect the probability of receiving appropriate depression treatment, we examined treatment preferences and their predictors among depressed primary care patients.

DESIGN: Patient questionnaires and interviews.

SETTING: Forty-six primary care clinics in 7 geographic regions of the United States.

PARTICIPANTS: One thousand one hundred eighty-seven English-and Spanish-speaking primary care patients with current depressive symptoms.

MEASUREMENTS AND MAIN RESULTS: Depressive symptoms and diagnoses were determined by the Composite International Diagnostic Interview (CIDI) and the Center for Epidemiological Studies Depression Scale (CES-D). Treatment preferences and characteristics were assessed using a self-administered questionnaire and a telephone interview. Nine hundred eight-one (83%) patients desired treatment for depression. Those who preferred treatment were wealthier (odds ratio [OR], 3.7; 95% confidence interval [95% CI], 1.8 to 7.9; P=.001) and had greater knowledge about antidepressant medication (OR, 2.6; 95% CI, 1.6 to 4.4; P≤.001) than those who did not want treatment. A majority (67%, n=660) of those preferring treatment preferred counseling, with African Americans (OR, 2.2; 95% CI, 1.0 to 4.8, P=.04 compared to whites) and those with greater knowledge about counseling (OR, 2.1; 95% CI, 1.6 to 2.7, P≤.001) more likely to choose counseling. Three hundred twelve (47%) of the 660 desiring counseling preferred group over individual counseling. Depression severity was only a predictor of preference among those already in treatment.

CONCLUSIONS: Despite low rates of treatment for depression, most depressed primary care patients desire treatment, especially counseling. Preferences for depression treatment vary by ethnicity, gender, income, and knowledge about treatments.

Key words

depression primary care patient preferences treatment preferences 


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Copyright information

© Society of General Internal Medicine 2000

Authors and Affiliations

  • Megan Dwight-Johnson
    • 1
    • 3
    Email author
  • Cathy D. Sherbourne
    • 2
  • Diana Liao
    • 3
  • Kenneth B. Wells
    • 3
    • 2
  1. 1.the Department of PsychiatryUniversity of Southern CaliforniaLos Angeles
  2. 2.RAND CorporationSanta Monica
  3. 3.UCLA/NPI Health Services Research CenterLos Angeles

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