Dropouts versus completers among chronically depressed outpatients.
BACKGROUND: Premature termination is common among patients treated for depression with either pharmacotherapy or psychotherapy. Yet little is known about factors associated with premature treatment termination among depressed patients. METHODS: This study examines predictors of, time to, and reasons for dropout from the 12-week acute phase treatment of nonpsychotic adult outpatients, age 18-75, with chronic major depression who were randomly assigned to nefazadone alone (MED), cognitive behavioral analysis system of psychotherapy alone (CBASP) or both treatments (COMB). RESULTS: Of 681 randomized study participants, 156 were defined as dropouts. Dropout rates were equivalent across the three treatments. Among dropouts, those in COMB remained in treatment (Mean=40 days) significantly longer than those in either MED (Mean=27 days) or CBASP (Mean=28 days). Dropouts attributed to medication side-effects were significantly lower in COMB than in MED, suggesting that the relationship with the psychotherapist may increase patient willingness to tolerate side-effects associated with antidepressant medications. Ethnic or racial minority status, younger age, lower income, and co-morbid anxiety disorders significantly predicted dropout in the full sample. Within treatments, differences between completers and dropouts in minority status and the prevalence of anxiety disorders were most pronounced in MED. Among those receiving CBASP, dropouts had significantly lower therapeutic alliance scores than completers. LIMITATIONS: The sample included only individuals with chronic depression. CONCLUSIONS: Predictors of dropout included baseline patient characteristics, but not early response to treatment. Ethnic and racial minorities and those with comorbid anxiety are at higher risk of premature termination, particularly in pharmacotherapy, and may require modified treatment strategies.
Arnow, BA; Blasey, C; Manber, R; Constantino, MJ; Markowitz, JC; Klein, DN; Thase, ME; Kocsis, JH; Rush, AJ
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