Treatment Goals of Depressed Outpatients: A Qualitative Investigation of Goals Identified by Participants in a Depression Treatment Trial

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Treatment goals and preferences of depressed patients are important, but they are rarely empirically studied. Although clinicians are likely to discuss goals with individual patients, research that clarifies overall patterns in the treatment goals of depressed patients could be useful in informing new interventions for depression. Such research could also potentially help address problems such as poor adherence and psychotherapy drop-out. In this preliminary qualitative investigation, we examined treatment goals established by depressed outpatients in the context of a trial of behaviorally oriented psychotherapy. The treatment goals that were most commonly articulated included improving social and family relationships, increasing physical health behaviors, finding a job, and organizing one's home. These results underscore the fact that, in addition to improvement in the symptoms of depression, functional improvements are viewed as key treatment goals by depressed individuals. (Journal of Psychiatric Practice 2010;16:425–430).

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