Perceived stigma as a predictor of treatment discontinuation in young and older outpatients with depression

Am J Psychiatry. 2001 Mar;158(3):479-81. doi: 10.1176/appi.ajp.158.3.479.


Objective: The authors' goal was to examine the extent to which perceived stigma affected treatment discontinuation in young and older adults with major depression.

Method: A two-stage sampling design identified 92 new admissions of outpatients with major depression. Perceived stigma was assessed at admission. Discontinuation of treatment was recorded at 3-month follow-up.

Results: Although younger patients reported perceiving more stigma than older patients, stigma predicted treatment discontinuation only among the older patients.

Conclusions: Patients' perceptions of stigma at the start of treatment influence their subsequent treatment behavior. Stigma is an appropriate target for intervention aimed at improving treatment adherence and outcomes.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Ambulatory Care*
  • Confidence Intervals
  • Depressive Disorder / diagnosis
  • Depressive Disorder / psychology*
  • Depressive Disorder / therapy
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Odds Ratio
  • Patient Dropouts* / psychology
  • Patient Dropouts* / statistics & numerical data*
  • Probability
  • Stereotyping*