Beliefs About Depression and Depression Treatment Among Depressed Veterans

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Because of the misunderstanding and stigmatization of mental health disorders and treatment, health beliefs may be important in treatment seeking for depression. It is important to understand patients’ beliefs about mental health disorders and mental health treatment to improve systems of care.


We studied beliefs about depression and depression treatment among patients in a randomized trial of a chronic care intervention to improve depression treatment in the Veterans Administration healthcare system (n = 395). The Depression Beliefs Inventory was used to assess beliefs regarding: (1) perceived need for depression treatment, (2) the efficacy of depression treatment, and (3) treatment barriers, including stigma, at baseline and 6 months. We calculated descriptive statistics on patients’ baseline beliefs, and used multiple regression to investigate the extent to which beliefs changed in intervention and treatment as usual patients between baseline and 6-month assessments. We used logistic regression to investigate the relationship between beliefs and antidepressant initiation, adherence and clinical response.


At baseline, 73% of our sample believed that they had depression, and 66% believed that taking antidepressants would be helpful for their depression. However, the depression intervention had few effects on beliefs, and individual beliefs were generally not associated with taking medication or clinical response. However, a summary measure of beliefs was found to have predictive validity with respect to initiating and adhering to antidepressant treatment.


Our results highlight the potential difficulty in modifying individuals’ attitudes regarding depression and depression treatment in chronic care models for depression interventions.

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