Characteristics and reasons associated with nonacceptance of selective serotonin-reuptake inhibitor treatment

Erica C. G. Van Geffen, Rolf Van Hulten, Marcel L. Bouvy, Antoine C. G. Egberts, Eibert R. Heerdink

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BACKGROUND: Studies have shown that up to 38% of patients who start treatment with antidepressants fill only a single prescription at the pharmacy, apparently not accepting treatment. OBJECTIVE: To determine characteristics and reasons associated with nonacceptance of selective serotonin-reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) treatment. METHODS: A retrospective study was conducted in 37 community pharmacies in the Netherlands: patients who presented a prescription from a general practitioner (GP) for a newly started SSRI treatment were selected. Nonaccepters were defined as patients who filled only one SSRI prescription: patients who received at least 3 fills of an SSRI prescription were defined as accepters. Patient characteristics were obtained from automated dispensing records and from questionnaires. Areas of evaluation included sociodemographics, disease, and treatment. Nonaccepters were asked their reasons for not filling second prescriptions. RESULTS: Of the patients who started SSRI treatment, 22.0% were nonaccepters, filling only a single prescription. Fifty-seven nonaccepters and 128 accepters were included in our analysis. Nonacceptance was more common among patients with a low level of education (OR 2.6; 95% CI 1.1 to 5.9) and in patients who reported nonspecific symptoms like fatigue, stress, and restlessness as the reason for SSRI use (OR 2.7; 95% CI 1.4 to 5.5). Of the nonaccepters, 29.8% (n = 17) did not start SSRI use, and 70.2% (n = 40) discontinued SSRI use within 2 weeks. Fear of adverse effects and the actual occurrence of adverse effects were main reasons for not accepting SSRI treatment. Of the nonaccepters, 55.0% discontinued treatment without informing their GPs. CONCLUSIONS: Acceptance of SSRI treatment is a decisive moment in a patient's adherence to treatment initiated by his or her GP and deserves more attention; GPs and pharmacists should address treatment issues, especially in groups at risk for nonacceptance.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)218-225
Number of pages8
JournalAnnals of Pharmacotherapy
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1-Feb-2008
Externally publishedYes


  • Adverse effects
  • Nonadherence
  • Selective serotonin-reuptake inhibitors
  • citalopram
  • escitalopram
  • fluoxetine
  • fluvoxamine
  • paroxetine
  • serotonin uptake inhibitor
  • sertraline
  • venlafaxine
  • adult
  • anxiety disorder
  • article
  • depression
  • drug indication
  • drug withdrawal
  • female
  • general practitioner
  • human
  • low drug dose
  • major clinical study
  • male
  • Netherlands
  • patient compliance
  • prescription
  • priority journal
  • questionnaire
  • retrospective study
  • treatment refusal

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