Response, remission and relapse in relation to adherence in primary care treatment of depression: a 2-year outcome study

Int Clin Psychopharmacol. 2006 Mar;21(2):117-24. doi: 10.1097/01.yic.0000199452.16682.b8.


Non-adherence to antidepressant drug treatment is common. In a recent study in depressed primary care patients, we reported a strong relationship between adherence and response after 6 months. With the use of a naturalistic design, the patients in that study were prospectively followed for 2 years. The purpose of the present study was to investigate the patients' long-term outcome and, in particular, to examine the impact of patients' treatment adherence on response, remission and relapse. Of the 1031 patients in the intent-to-treat (ITT) sample, 835 completed the study. After 2 years, the overall remission rate defined as a Montgomery-Asberg Depression Rating Scale score of nine or less was 68% in the ITT sample analysed with the last observation carried forward (LOCF) technique, and 75% in observed cases. In total, 34% of the responders experienced at least one relapse. Response rates (LOCF) were significantly higher in adherent compared to non-adherent patients at week 24 [95% confidence interval (CI) = 21.4-32.1], year 1 (95% CI = 12.3-22.2) and year 2 (95% CI = 9.2-19.0). Remission rates (LOCF) were also significantly higher in the group of adherent patients at week 24 (95% CI = 9.6-21.5), year 1 (95% CI = 10.0-21.5) and year 2 (95% CI = 11.0-22.0). No relationship between adherence and relapse rate was observed, although the mean time from response to first sign of relapse was significantly longer in the adherent patients (95% C I= 9-97 days). In conclusion, this 2-year follow-up study showed superior long-term recovery in patients who were adherent to antidepressant medication compared to non-adherent patients.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Antidepressive Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Depressive Disorder / drug therapy*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Patient Compliance*
  • Primary Health Care*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Recurrence
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Antidepressive Agents