New Halifax study

A major study done in the Maritimes on the treatment of depression shows that adding an education program to traditional medication produces greater patient satisfaction with their overall treatment. It even shows a tendency to boost the effectiveness of the medication.

First results of the study were presented this week in Washington, D.C. by Stanley Kutcher, M.D., head of the Department of Psychiatry at the Medical School of Dalhousie University in Nova Scotia. Dr. Kutcher was presenting his results to the prestigious American Psychiatry Association.

The stigma attached to depression and the use of anti-depressants has long been known to affect patients’ use of medication and satisfaction with therapy. Patients often stop taking their medication as soon as they feel better, and risk falling right back into a relapse.

The study looked at the effectiveness of an education program called “RHYTHMS”. The program is a 28-week series of newsletters and videotape sent to the patient’s home over the duration of the treatment with anti-depressants. Its goal is to educate the patient about the disorder and its treatment and to encourage them to continue their treatment as long anecessary.

Dr. Kutcher’s study involved 261 patients with depression in the Maritimes being seen by 50 physicians in Halifax, Saint John, N.B., Moncton, N.B., and Charlottetown, P.E.I. Patients were men or women age 19 to 64 diagnosed with major depressive disorder. The preliminary study results show that a significantly higher percentage of patients in the RHYTHMS group said they were more satisfied with their treatment regimen than those who did not receive the program. Additionally, more of the RHYTHMS group showed an earlier remission of their illness. Both groups showed an excellent response to treatment.

“It shows that an education program makes patients more satisfied with their treatment and this is very important in the therapy for a disorder which still is associated with stigma”, said Dr.Kutcher. The project was sponsored by pharmaceutical company Pfizer Inc.