Managed care and medication compliance: Implications for chronic depression

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Abstract

An emerging trend within managed care, “disease management” (DM), will affect consumers and providers of mental health services, clinicians, and mental health administrators. Central to DM programs is the idea that particular diseases, especially chronic illnesses (including depression), can be “carved out” and managed. Pharmaceutical benefit management (PBM) firms may specialize in managing prescription benefits for employers and other managed care organizations by using DM programs. However, given what is known from the theoretical and empirical literature on adherence to medication for chronic illnesses such as depression, it is questionable whether the techniques that are used by PBMs will be effective in managing illnesses that require a multifaceted approach to care. Because the management of antidepressants may have an impact on members of vulnerable populations (e.g., the elderly), more research is required on the approaches used by PBMs and on the cost and quality of the services provided.

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