Treatment of depression improves adherence to interferon beta-1b therapy for multiple sclerosis

Arch Neurol. 1997 May;54(5):531-3. doi: 10.1001/archneur.1997.00550170015009.


Objectives: To examine the relationship between patient-reported depression and adherence to therapy with interferon beta-1b (IFN beta-1b) and to test the hypothesis that treatment of depression is associated with improved adherence.

Design: Patients with multiple sclerosis were followed up 6 months after initiating therapy with IFN beta-1b.

Setting: A university outpatient multiple sclerosis center, an academic group practice, and a health maintenance organization.

Patients: Eighty-five patients with clinically evident multiple sclerosis taking IFN beta-1b.

Main outcome measure: Follow-up questionnaire.

Results: Thirty-five (41%) of the 85 patients reported new or increased depression within 6 months of initiating therapy with IFN beta-1b. Patients experiencing symptoms of depression were more likely to discontinue therapy. Among the patients reporting new or increased depression, 86% who received psychotherapy or antidepressant medication and 38% of the patients who received no therapy for depression continued the IFN beta-1b therapy (P = .003). Although psychotherapy was used as a treatment option more frequently in university and academic group practice-based multiple sclerosis clinics than in the health maintenance organization (P = .02), the treatment adherence patterns were similar across sites.

Conclusions: These findings support previous findings that patients report increased depression after initiating therapy with IFN beta-1b. Although the source of this depression is unclear, these findings suggest that treating patient-reported depression increases adherence to treatment.

MeSH terms

  • Adjuvants, Immunologic / therapeutic use*
  • Depression / etiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Interferon beta-1a
  • Interferon beta-1b
  • Interferon-beta / therapeutic use*
  • Male
  • Multiple Sclerosis / psychology*
  • Multiple Sclerosis / therapy*
  • Patient Compliance*
  • Recombinant Proteins


  • Adjuvants, Immunologic
  • Recombinant Proteins
  • Interferon beta-1b
  • Interferon-beta
  • Interferon beta-1a