Patients' Early Discontinuation of Antidepressant Prescriptions

Published in: Psychiatric Services, v. 55, no. 5, May 2004, p. 494

Posted on RAND.org on January 01, 2004

by Elizabeth Lewis, Steven C. Marcus, Mark Olfson, Benjamin Druss, Harold Alan Pincus

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The use of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) has increased in the past decade. This rapid growth in volume has led to widespread concern about the quality of antidepressant treatment in primary care. The authors examined the prevalence of early discontinuation of SSRI treatment among patients seen by various medical specialties. Early discontinuation was defined as failure to refill a prescription for any antidepressant medication within 30 days of the end of the first SSRI prescription. Patients of psychiatrists were the least likely to discontinue the medication early, compared with patients of primary care providers and patients of other medical specialists. Rates of early discontinuation were above 30 percent in all three specialties, suggesting opportunities for performance improvement in each group.

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