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Psychiatr Serv. 2011 May;62(5):532-7. doi: 10.1176/ps.62.5.pss6205_0532.

Preferences for depression treatment among elderly home health care patients.

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Department of Psychiatry, Weill Cornell Medical College,White Plains, NY 10605, USA.



The authors hypothesized that the depression treatment preferences of elderly home care patients would vary by their experience of depression and that preferences for active treatment would be associated with current depression and with antidepressant treatment.


The authors conducted cross-sectional secondary analyses of data from the TRIAD study (Training in the Assessment of Depression) of 256 randomly selected elderly patients newly admitted to home care. The study assessed preference for active treatments (medication or psychotherapy) and nonactive or complementary approaches (such as religious activities or doing nothing). Nondepressed patients were asked to choose as if they had serious depression. Two separate indicators of depression experience were used: a current diagnosis of major or minor depression and current or previous antidepressant treatment.


Of the 256 patients, 16% (N=41) met criteria for major or minor depression. Forty-seven percent of the sample (N=121) preferred an active treatment as their first choice, and others preferred nonactive or complementary approaches. Logistic regression indicated that current antidepressant use, previous psychotherapy experience, white or Hispanic race-ethnicity (versus black), greater impairment in instrumental activities of daily living, and less personal stigma about depression were independently associated with preference for an active treatment.


Elderly home care patients had a variety of treatment preferences, ranging from active treatments, to religious or spiritual activities, to no treatment. Several factors were associated with a preference for active treatment, including treatment experience, physical impairment, race-ethnicity, and attitudes and beliefs. An understanding of patient preferences may help engage older depressed home care patients in treatment.

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