Willingness to pay for depression treatment in primary care

Psychiatr Serv. 2003 Mar;54(3):340-5. doi: 10.1176/ps.54.3.340.


Objective: The authors analyzed data from 615 depressed primary care patients to determine their willingness to pay for depression treatment.

Methods: A sample of 615 adult patients from four primary care clinics participated in a randomized controlled trial of a disease management program for depression in primary care. Participants were asked at baseline interviews and six-month follow-up interviews how much they would be willing to pay per month for a six-month treatment that would eliminate their symptoms of depression. Multiple regression analyses were used to estimate the association between demographic and clinical factors and willingness to pay for depression treatment and to examine changes.

Results: The mean amount that participants were willing to pay for depression treatment at baseline was $270+/-187 per month, or about 9 percent of the participants' household income. Willingness to pay was significantly associated with household income and with the severity of depressive symptoms. Over six months, the amount that participants were willing to pay decreased along with their severity of depressive symptoms.

Conclusions: The amount that participants were willing to pay was comparable to that reported for the treatment of other chronic medical disorders and higher than the actual cost of depression treatment. Measurements of willingness to pay may be a promising method for assessing the value of treatments for common mental disorders.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Antidepressive Agents / economics
  • Depressive Disorder / economics*
  • Depressive Disorder / therapy*
  • Disease Management*
  • Female
  • Financing, Personal*
  • Health Maintenance Organizations / economics*
  • Health Services Research
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Patient Acceptance of Health Care / psychology*
  • Primary Health Care / economics*
  • Psychotherapy / economics
  • Value of Life / economics
  • Washington


  • Antidepressive Agents