Beliefs about antidepressant medications in primary care patients: relationship to self-reported adherence

Med Care. 2005 Dec;43(12):1203-7. doi: 10.1097/01.mlr.0000185733.30697.f6.


Background: Adherence to medication is unacceptably low in both medical and psychiatric disorders. Explanatory models of illness beliefs and behaviors suggest that an individual's beliefs about a disorder and its treatment will influence their adherence. Given that beliefs about medications may influence adherence to antidepressants, we examined beliefs about medications in relation to antidepressant adherence in a primary care sample.

Objective: The purpose of this report is to 1) describe beliefs about medication in primary care patients prescribed antidepressants for depression; 2) examine the factor structure of the Beliefs about Medicines Questionnaire (BMQ) and compare it with the previously reported factor structure of the BMQ in medical conditions; and 3) examine the association of medication beliefs with self-reported medication adherence.

Results: Factor analysis indicates that the BMQ is valid in a sample of primary care patients receiving treatment for depression and has a similar factor structure to that obtained in samples of patients with chronic medical conditions. Beliefs about medications are significantly associated with self-reported adherence. Severity of depressive symptoms and specific concerns about antidepressants are significantly associated with self-reported medication-taking behavior. Findings suggest that in addition to telling patients how to take their medications, primary care physicians should also educate patients about the short- and long-term effects of the medication, how the medication works, and that antidepressants are not addictive.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Antidepressive Agents / administration & dosage*
  • Antidepressive Agents / therapeutic use
  • Depression / drug therapy*
  • Depression / psychology
  • Factor Analysis, Statistical
  • Female
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Patient Compliance / psychology*
  • Primary Health Care*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires


  • Antidepressive Agents