Treatment Preferences Among Depressed Primary Care Patients


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OBJECTIVE: To understand patient factors that may affect the probability of receiving appropriate depression treatment, we examined treatment preferences and their predictors among depressed primary care patients.

DESIGN: Patient questionnaires and interviews.

SETTING: Forty-six primary care clinics in 7 geographic regions of the United States.

PARTICIPANTS: One thousand one hundred eighty-seven English- and Spanish-speaking primary care patients with current depressive symptoms.

MEASUREMENTS AND MAIN RESULTS: Depressive symptoms and diagnoses were determined by the Composite International Diagnostic Interview (CIDI) and the Center for Epidemiological Studies Depression Scale (CES-D). Treatment preferences and characteristics were assessed using a self-administered questionnaire and a telephone interview. Nine hundred eight-one (83%) patients desired treatment for depression. Those who preferred treatment were wealthier (odds ratio [OR], 3.7; 95% confidence interval [95% CI], 1.8 to 7.9; P = .001) and had greater knowledge about antidepressant medication ( OR, 2.6; 95% CI, 1.6 to 4.4; P≤ .001) than those who did not want treatment. A majority (  67%, n = 660) of those preferring treatment preferred counseling, with African Americans (OR, 2.2; 95% CI, 1.0 to 4.8, P = .04 compared to whites) and those with greater knowledge about counseling (OR, 2.1; 95% CI, 1.6 to 2.7, P≤ .001) more likely to choose counseling. Three hundred twelve ( 47%) of the 660 desiring counseling preferred group over individual counseling. Depression severity was only a predictor of preference among those already in treatment.

CONCLUSIONS: Despite low rates of treatment for depression, most depressed primary care patients desire treatment, especially counseling. Preferences for depression treatment vary by ethnicity, gender, income, and knowledge about treatments.