Predictors of antidepressant prescription and early use among depressed outpatients

Am J Psychiatry. 1999 May;156(5):690-6. doi: 10.1176/ajp.156.5.690.


Objective: The rates of antidepressant recommendation and use were determined in outpatients with major depression receiving services in mental health clinics. Site of service and the patients' sociodemographic and clinical characteristics were investigated as possible predictors.

Method: Patients admitted to six outpatient clinics were recruited through a two-stage sampling procedure. Patients with major depressive disorder (N = 124) according to the Structured Clinical Interview for DSM-IV--Patient Edition were assessed at admission and 3 months later.

Results: Drug therapy was recommended for most patients (71%), and minimal use (at least 1 week) was recorded for 59% of the subjects. White patients were nearly three times as likely to receive a recommendation for antidepressants. Antidepressant recommendation was also associated with severity of depressed mood, recent medication use, and clinic type. Recent antidepressant use was the only variable that predicted whether the patient actually took the recommended medication.

Conclusions: Many patients with depression seeking treatment at community mental health clinics do not receive antidepressant drug therapy. The offer of medication is predicted by patient ethnicity, clinic type, and symptom severity. Minority patients are less likely to be offered antidepressant treatment.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Ambulatory Care Facilities / statistics & numerical data
  • Ambulatory Care* / statistics & numerical data
  • Antidepressive Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Community Mental Health Services / statistics & numerical data
  • Depressive Disorder / diagnosis
  • Depressive Disorder / drug therapy*
  • Depressive Disorder / psychology
  • Drug Prescriptions / statistics & numerical data*
  • Drug Utilization
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Minority Groups
  • Patient Acceptance of Health Care
  • Patient Compliance*
  • Probability
  • Psychiatric Status Rating Scales
  • Social Class


  • Antidepressive Agents