Objective: To determine if the type of antidepressant drug is related to adherence to National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA) Antidepressant Medication Management (AMM) quality measures and to assess the 6-month health care costs among newly diagnosed depressed patients.
Methods: The MarketScan Commercial Claims and Encounter database for medical and pharmacy claims from January 2001 to September 2004 was used to assess adherence to the 3 AMM quality-of-care measures. AMM measures include (a) acute phase, the percentage of eligible members who remained on antidepressant medication continuously for 3 months after the initial diagnosis as determined by at least 84 days supply of antidepressant drugs during the first 114 days following receipt of the index antidepressant; (b) continuation phase, the percentage of eligible members who remained on antidepressant medication continuously for the 6 months after the initial diagnosis as determined by at least 180 days supply of antidepressants during the first 214 days following receipt of the index antidepressant; and (c) practitioner contacts, the percentage of members who received at least 3 follow-up office visits or telephone contacts with health care providers, including at least 1 contact with a practitioner licensed to prescribe (may not necessarily be the prescriber of the antidepressant). A fourth measure, overall adherence, was added, if all 3 AMM measures were met. Multivariate regression models determined demographic, clinical (such as receipt of mental health specialty care, the Charlson Comorbidity Index score, and co-occurring bipolar or schizophrenia), and therapy-related factors associated with outcomes of adherence and costs (paid amounts for insurance-reimbursable health care services for inpatient admissions, emergency department services, outpatient services, and outpatient prescription drugs). Health care expenditures (both total and mental-health-specific costs) were measured for each patient for 6 months following the date of service for the index antidepressant.
Results: A total of 60,386 adult patients (10.7%) of 562,898 patients with a depression diagnosis met NCQA inclusion criteria in the AMM Technical Specifications (e.g., aged 18 years or older, newly diagnosed with depression and initiating antidepressant therapy, 365 days of continuous enrollment; patients were excluded if there were missing data on dose or quantity of index drug in pharmacy claims or initiated therapy on 2 or more antidepressants as the index medication, exclusion criteria not in the AMM Technical Specifications). Only 19% of patients achieved overall adherence. Rates for the 3 AMM measures were 39% for practitioner contacts, 65% for acute phase, and 44% for continuation phase. Receipt of mental health specialty care was the only factor that was positively associated with greater adherence on all 4 measures (overall measure: odds ratio [OR]=3.895, 95% confidence interval [CI], 3.72-4.07; acute OR=1.38, 95% CI, 1.33-1.43; continuation OR=1.46, 95% CI, 1.41-1.51; contacts OR=5.83, 95% CI, 5.62-6.06). Most patients were initiated on selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs, 69.5%), followed by venlafaxine (21.4%), tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs, 21.4%), bupropion (11.0%), and other antidepressants (e.g., mirtazapine, nefazadone, trazadone; 7.2%). Before adjustment for confounding factors, patients initiated on venlafaxine, TCAs, or other antidepressants had higher rates of adherence on the overall performance measure versus initiators on SSRIs, but the absolute differences were relatively small: 21.4% for venlafaxine and TCAs and 23.1% for other antidepressants versus 18.5% for SSRIs (P <0.001). Patients initiated on venlafaxine, TCAs, or other antidepressants were also more likely to receive care from a mental health specialist, 16.8%, 15.0%, and 54.8%, respectively, compared with SSRIs (13.0%, all P <0.001). Regression analysis showed that only venlafaxine had a higher OR (1.13; 95% CI, 1.05-1.22) compared with SSRIs for adherence on the overall measure. Initiating dose level was in the target range for 70.0% of all patients (24.9% were below target dose and 5.2% above target dose), and adherent patients on all 3 AMM measures were less likely than nonadherent patients (70.4% vs. 68.4%, P <0.001) to be initiated in the target dose range. After multivariate adjustment, the initiating dose (target vs. high) was a significant factor in explaining adherence to the overall measure (OR=1.26; 95% CI, 1.16- 1.37). Adherent patients had 6-month median unadjusted total health care expenses that were nearly 2 times higher compared with nonadherent patients ($5,169 vs. $2,734) and mental health expenditures that were nearly 3 times higher ($1,922 vs. $677). After adjustment, adherent patients compared with nonadherent patients incurred an additional $644 in mental health expenditures and $806 in overall health care expenditures in the 6 months following initiation of antidepressant therapy.
Conclusions: Only 19% of depressed patients initiated on antidepressants met all 3 criteria set forth in the NCQA Health Plan Employer Data and Information Set (HEDIS) AMM quality-of-care performance measures. Receipt of mental health specialty care was the single factor most strongly associated with quality treatment by these measures. Type and dosage level of initial antidepressant was associated with adherence to the NCQA HEDIS AMM measures, but the absolute difference in rates of adherence were relatively small among types of antidepressants. Costs were higher for guideline-adherent individuals in the 6 months following treatment initiation. These analyses were limited to administrative claims that lack indicators of depression disease severity.