Effectiveness of treatments for major depression in primary medical care practice: a post hoc analysis of outcomes for African American and white patients

J Affect Disord. 1999 May;53(2):185-92. doi: 10.1016/s0165-0327(98)00120-7.


Objective: To retrospectively determine whether race differentially influences treatment adherence and clinical outcomes among 68 African Americans and 92 whites treated for major depression in four urban, primary care settings.

Method: Study participants were randomly assigned to standardized interpersonal psychotherapy or pharmacotherapy with nortriptyline, and were assessed at baseline, and successive time points up to 8 months for severity of depression, and mental and physical health-related functioning.

Results: Intent-to-treat analyses revealed no treatment or race-specific differences in symptomatic recovery when both groups were provided standardized psychotherapy or pharmacotherapy. However, African Americans had poorer functional outcomes than whites.

Conclusions: African American and white primary medical care patients are effectively treated with standardized psychotherapy and pharmacotherapy. Future research should assess the impact of cultural context on symptom presentation, psychosocial functioning, and treatment adherence and response.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Comparative Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Antidepressive Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Black or African American / psychology*
  • Combined Modality Therapy
  • Depressive Disorder, Major / psychology
  • Depressive Disorder, Major / therapy*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Nortriptyline / therapeutic use*
  • Primary Health Care*
  • Psychotherapy / methods*
  • Treatment Outcome
  • White People / psychology*


  • Antidepressive Agents
  • Nortriptyline