Rates and determinants of use of pharmacotherapy and psychotherapy by patients with major depressive disorder

Fraser W. Gaspar, Catherine S. Zaidel, Carolyn S Dewa

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Objective: Rates and determinants of pharmacological and psychotherapy use were assessed after a major depressive disorder diagnosis. Methods: In a retrospective claims study that included 2007-2016 records from the IBM MarketScan research databases, use of pharmacotherapy and psychotherapy was tracked in a population of 24,579 patients with a diagnosis of major depressive disorder. Univariate and multiple variable analyses were used to identify determinants of antidepressant adherence (proportion of days covered $.8) and intensive psychotherapy at the beginning of treatment (at least four psychotherapy visits in the first 4 weeks after initiating psychotherapy). Results: In the 12 months following a diagnosis of major depressive disorder, most individuals received pharmaco-therapy or psychotherapy (94.7%), and unimodal therapy was more common (58.5%) than bimodal therapy (36.2%). When antidepressants were initiated (N=13,524), 41.7% and 32.0% of patients were adherent in the acute and continuation phases, respectively. Initial antidepressant dosages were outside guideline recommendations for 34.5% of patients prescribed these medications. When psychotherapy was initiated, the median number of visits in the year after a patient's diagnosis was seven. Most patients (54.7%) did not continue to receive either antidepressant or psychotherapy treatment after month 5 following their diagnosis. A shorter time from diagnosis to treatment and a lower percentage of treatment costs paid by the patient were associated with increased antidepressant adherence and intensive psychotherapy use. Conclusions: Findings indicate that treatment guideline recommendations are not followed for a large proportion of patients with major depressive disorder and that improvement is needed in multiple areas to enhance effective treatment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)262-270
Number of pages9
JournalPsychiatric Services
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 1 2019

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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