Patients' and clinicians' perspectives on relevant treatment outcomes in depression: qualitative study

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BACKGROUND: Although symptomatic remission is considered the optimal outcome in depression, this is not always achieved. Furthermore, symptom indicators do not fully capture patients' and clinicians' perspectives on remission. Broader indicators of (partial) remission from depression should be considered.

AIMS: To investigate relevant outcomes of depression treatment in specialist care from patients' and clinicians' perspectives and to investigate whether these perspectives differ from each other.

METHOD: Three focus groups with 11 patients with depression and seven semi-structured interviews with clinicians were conducted exploring their perspectives on remission. All interviews were audio-recorded and transcribed verbatim. We analysed the transcripts thematically using the phenomenologist approach.

RESULTS: Independently, both patients and clinicians perceived the following outcomes relevant: restoring social functioning and interpersonal relations, regaining quality of life and achieving personal goals. All clinicians emphasised symptom reduction and satisfaction with treatment as relevant outcomes, whereas the former was not an obvious theme in patients. Unlike clinicians, patients made a clear distinction between treatment outcomes in first versus recurrent/chronic depression.

CONCLUSIONS: Classically defined study outcomes based on symptom resolution only partly reflect issues considered important by patients and clinicians in specialist depression treatment. Incorporating patients' and clinicians' perspectives in the development of measurable end-points makes them more suitable for use in trials and subsequent translation to clinical practice. Furthermore, evaluating patients' perspectives on treatment outcomes helps in the development of tailored interventions according to patients' needs.

Original languageEnglish
Article number44
Pages (from-to)e44
Number of pages7
JournalBJPsych Open
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 4-May-2020


  • Depressive disorders
  • value-based healthcare
  • LIFE
  • CARE

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