Providing information about the effectiveness of treatment options to depressed people in the community: a randomized controlled trial of effects on mental health literacy, help-seeking and symptoms

Psychol Med. 2003 Aug;33(6):1071-9. doi: 10.1017/s0033291703008079.


Background: Many people who are depressed do not receive any professional help and their beliefs about the helpfulness of treatment do not always correspond with those of health professionals. To facilitate choices about treatment, the present study examined the effects of providing depressed people in the community with evidence on whether various treatment options work.

Method: A randomized controlled trial was carried out with 1094 persons selected at random from the community who screened positive for depressive symptoms and agreed to participate. Participants were mailed either an evidence-based consumer guide to treatments for depression or, as a control, a general brochure on depression. Outcomes were the rated usefulness of the information provided, changes in attitudes to depression treatments, actions taken to reduce depression, and changes in depressive symptoms, anxiety symptoms and disability.

Results: Participants rated the evidence-based consumer guide as more useful than the control brochure. Attitudes to some treatments changed. Improvements in symptoms and disability did not differ significantly between interventions.

Conclusion: Providing people who are depressed with evidence on which treatments work produces some changes in attitudes and behaviour. However, this intervention may need to be enhanced if it is to produce symptom change.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Community Mental Health Services / statistics & numerical data
  • Community Mental Health Services / supply & distribution*
  • Depressive Disorder, Major / diagnosis
  • Depressive Disorder, Major / epidemiology
  • Depressive Disorder, Major / therapy*
  • Evidence-Based Medicine
  • Female
  • Health Promotion*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Patient Acceptance of Health Care*
  • Patient Education as Topic / standards*
  • Prevalence
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Treatment Outcome