COMPARATIVE STUDY
JOURNAL ARTICLE
RANDOMIZED CONTROLLED TRIAL

A randomized trial of relapse prevention of depression in primary care

W Katon, C Rutter, E J Ludman, M Von Korff, E Lin, G Simon, T Bush, E Walker, J Unützer
Archives of General Psychiatry 2001, 58 (3): 241-7
11231831

BACKGROUND: Despite high rates of relapse and recurrence, few primary care patients with recurrent or chronic depression are receiving continuation and maintenance-phase treatment. We hypothesized that a relapse prevention intervention would improve adherence to antidepressant medication and improve depression outcomes in high-risk patients compared with usual primary care.

METHODS: Three hundred eighty-six patients with recurrent major depression or dysthymia who had largely recovered after 8 weeks of antidepressant treatment by their primary care physicians were randomized to a relapse prevention program (n = 194) or usual primary care (n = 192). Patients in the intervention group received 2 primary care visits with a depression specialist and 3 telephone visits over a 1-year period aimed at enhancing adherence to antidepressant medication, recognition of prodromal symptoms, monitoring of symptoms, and development of a written relapse prevention plan. Follow-up assessments were completed at 3, 6, 9, and 12 months by a telephone survey team blinded to randomization status.

RESULTS: Those in the intervention group had significantly greater adherence to adequate dosage of antidepressant medication for 90 days or more within the first and second 6-month periods and were significantly more likely to refill medication prescriptions during the 12-month follow-up compared with usual care controls. Intervention patients had significantly fewer depressive symptoms, but not fewer episodes of relapse/recurrence over the 12-month follow-up period.

CONCLUSIONS: A relapse prevention program targeted to primary care patients with a high risk of relapse/recurrence who had largely recovered after antidepressant treatment significantly improved antidepressant adherence and depressive symptom outcomes.

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