Can quality improvement programs for depression in primary care address patient preferences for treatment?

Med Care. 2001 Sep;39(9):934-44. doi: 10.1097/00005650-200109000-00004.


Background: Depression is common in primary care, but rates of adequate care are low. Little is known about the role of patient treatment preferences in encouraging entry into care.

Objectives: To examine whether a primary care based depression quality improvement (QI) intervention designed to accommodate patient and provider treatment choice increases the likelihood that patients enter depression treatment and receive preferred treatment.

Methods: In 46 primary care clinics, patients with current depressive symptoms and either lifetime or current depressive disorder were identified through screening. Treatment preferences, patient characteristics, and use of depression treatments were assessed at baseline and 6 months by patient self-report. Matched clinics were randomized to usual care (UC) or 1 of 2 QI interventions. Data were analyzed using logistic regression models.

Results: For patients not in care at baseline, the QI interventions increased rates of entry into depression treatment compared with usual care (adjusted percentage: 50.0% +/- 5.3 and 33.0% +/- 4.9 for interventions vs. 15.9% +/- 3.6 for usual care; F = 12.973, P <0.0001). Patients in intervention clinics were more likely to get treatments they preferred compared with those in usual care (adjusted percentage: 54.2% +/- 3.3 and 50.7% +/- 3.1 for interventions vs. 40.5% +/- 3.1 for usual care; F = 6.034, P <0.003); however, in all clinics less than half of patients preferring counseling reported receiving it.

Conclusions: QI interventions that support patient choice can improve the likelihood of patients receiving preferred treatments. Patient treatment preference appears to be related to likelihood of entering depression treatment, and patients preferring counseling may require additional interventions to enhance entry into treatment.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Antidepressive Agents / therapeutic use
  • Counseling / statistics & numerical data
  • Delivery of Health Care / organization & administration
  • Delivery of Health Care / standards
  • Depressive Disorder / nursing
  • Depressive Disorder / therapy*
  • Humans
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Mental Health Services / organization & administration
  • Mental Health Services / standards*
  • Middle Aged
  • Outcome and Process Assessment, Health Care*
  • Patient Satisfaction / statistics & numerical data*
  • Primary Health Care / standards*
  • Total Quality Management*
  • United States


  • Antidepressive Agents