Psychological Science Faculty Publications and Presentations


A Retrospective Examination of Symptom Improvements in Primary Care Patients Receiving Behavior Therapy With and Without Concurrent Pharmacotherapy

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Primary care providers are the biggest prescribers of psychopharmacological medications. In this non-randomized retrospective examination, we asked whether primary care patients receiving behavioral health interventions with and without concurrent pharmacological treatments showed differential symptom improvement. Participants (79.4% women, 61.5% Hispanic, M age = 41.68, SD = 13.50) were 431 primary care patients referred to behavioral health with a primary concern of depression at one of three federally qualified health centers. Thirty-three percent of patients initiated or had an increase in pharmacotherapy concurrently with behavioral therapy; 26.9% had no change in medication during the episode of care, and 39.7% had no concurrent psychotropic medication prescribed during the episode of care. One-way analyses of variance revealed patients in the no medication group had higher global functioning, as measured by Global Assessment of Functioning (GAF) scores, than patients who were taking medication, or who initated or had an increase in medication. There was a significant main effect of time, where patients had significantly higher GAF scores during their last session in comparison to the first session. All three patient groups experienced comparable improvements in GAF scores, but patients in the initiated/increased medication group were significantly more likely to terminate behavioral health treatment prematurely. Results suggest primary care patients experience improvements in functioning across an episode of behavioral health care, even without concurrent psychotropic medication use.


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J Clin Psychol Med Settings