Effect of primary care treatment of depression on service use by patients with high medical expenditures

David J. Katzelnick, Kenneth A. Kobak, John H. Greist, James W. Jefferson, Henry J. Henk

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

77 Scopus citations


Objective: The study examined the impact of identifying and treating depression among patients who had a history of high medical expenditures. Effects on service use, disability, and quality of life were measured. Methods: A total of 786 high users of services from two primary care clinics and an equal number of randomly selected patients who were not high users were screened for depression using the Medical Outcomes Study (MOS) depression screen. High-user patients who screened positive were subsequently seen by their primary care physician for a diagnostic interview. The 20 patients with a confirmed diagnosis of depression were offered open-label antidepressant treatment by their primary care physician for six months. Results: All 20 patients completed the six-month study. Treatment resulted in significant reductions in depression and significant improvements in quality of life in the areas of social functioning, general health, mental health, physical functioning, emotional role functioning, and vitality. Days of missed work per month were reduced, and the percentage of patients who reported not being at all impaired by their depression at work increased. Costs for service use fell from $13.28 to $6.75 per day; when costs for the treatment study were added, the daily service use cost was $12.55. Conclusions: Identification and treatment of depression among patients with a history of high medical expenditures improved depression and increased work productivity and quality of life. Service use decreased with treatment. A larger sample and control group are needed to determine if treatment is associated with a statistically significant decrease in medical expenditures.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)59-64
Number of pages6
JournalPsychiatric Services
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1997

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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