Background and objectives: Preferences and attitudes patients hold towards treatment are important, as these can influence treatment outcome. In depression research, the influence of patients' preference/attitudes on outcome and dropout has mainly been studied for antidepressant medication, and less for psychological treatments. We investigated the effects of patients' preference and attitudes towards psychological treatment and antidepressant medication on treatment outcome and dropout, and tested specificity of effects.
Methods: Data are based on a randomized trial testing the effectiveness of behavioural activation (BA) vs antidepressant medication (ADM) for major depression (MDD) in Iran. Patients with MDD (N = 100) were randomized to BA (N = 50) or ADM (N = 50). Patients' preference/attitudes towards psychotherapy and ADM were assessed at baseline and associated with dropout and treatment outcome using logistic regression and multilevel analysis.
Results: High scores on psychotherapy preference/attitude and low scores on ADM preference/attitude predicted dropout from ADM, while no association between dropout and preference/attitude was found in BA. Psychotherapy preference/attitude moderated the differential effect of BA and ADM on one outcome measure, but the association disappeared after one year.
Limitations: Because in Iran most patients have only access to ADM, offering a psychological treatment for depression could attract especially those patients that prefer this newly available treatment.
Conclusions: Patients' preferences and attitudes towards depression treatments influence dropout from ADM, and moderate the short-term difference in effectiveness between BA and ADM. The fact that dropout from BA was not affected by preference/attitude speaks for its acceptability among patients.
Keywords: Antidepressant medication; Behavioural activation; Major depressive disorder; Preferences and attitudes.
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