Patients' Early Discontinuation of Antidepressant Prescriptions

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

Posted on on January 01, 2004

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

Read More

Access further information on this document at

This article was published outside of RAND. The full text of the article can be found at the link above.

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.

This report is part of the RAND Corporation External publication series. Many RAND studies are published in peer-reviewed scholarly journals, as chapters in commercial books, or as documents published by other organizations.

Our mission to help improve policy and decisionmaking through research and analysis is enabled through our core values of quality and objectivity and our unwavering commitment to the highest level of integrity and ethical behavior. To help ensure our research and analysis are rigorous, objective, and nonpartisan, we subject our research publications to a robust and exacting quality-assurance process; avoid both the appearance and reality of financial and other conflicts of interest through staff training, project screening, and a policy of mandatory disclosure; and pursue transparency in our research engagements through our commitment to the open publication of our research findings and recommendations, disclosure of the source of funding of published research, and policies to ensure intellectual independence. For more information, visit

The RAND Corporation is a nonprofit institution that helps improve policy and decisionmaking through research and analysis. RAND's publications do not necessarily reflect the opinions of its research clients and sponsors.