The Natural Course of Adolescent Depression Treatment in the Primary Care Setting

Allison Mc Cord Stafford, Tamila Garbuz, Dillon J. Etter, Zachary W. Adams, Leslie A. Hulvershorn, Stephen M. Downs, Matthew C. Aalsma

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Introduction: Little is known about how adolescents receive depression follow-up in primary care. The purpose of this study was to describe the rates of symptom assessment and depression treatment over time in a group of adolescents screening positive for moderate or severe depression in the primary care setting. Methods: Retrospective chart reviews were conducted to gather information related to symptom reassessments, antidepressant prescriptions, psychotherapy referrals, and treatment discontinuation. Descriptive statistics were calculated, and a qualitative content analysis was conducted to determine the reasons for treatment discontinuation. Results: Eighty records were reviewed (mean age = 15.3, 73% female, 59% Black). Treatment was initiated for 83% (n = 66) of patients, and 45% (n = 30) of patients discontinued treatment during the review period for a variety of reasons. Discussion: To improve adolescents’ adherence to depression treatment, providers should address factors that contribute to treatment discontinuation and use tools to manage depression follow-up care.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)38-46
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Pediatric Health Care
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2020


  • Adolescent
  • antidepressants
  • depression
  • primary health care
  • psychotherapy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health

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