Depressed Patients Can Thrive Under Managed Care, Study Finds

Study of the effects of managed care on the relationship between physicians and patients with depression

From 1998 to 2001, investigators at the RAND Corporation used data from a previously published study of depressed patients to explore how the physician-patient relationship involving depressed patients varies under different managed care arrangements.

The project was part of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) Strengthening the Patient-Provider Relationship in a Changing Health Care Environment national program.

Key Findings:

  • Patients who received high "technical quality care"—which was defined as appropriate use of medication and counseling for their depression—rated their relationship with their provider significantly higher and were more satisfied than were patients who did not receive high-quality care.
  • Patients who reported high satisfaction with care were more likely to receive higher technical quality depression care in a six-month follow-up compared with those who were less satisfied.
  • Managed care cost-containment strategies appeared to increase, rather than decrease, the continuity of the relationship between depressed patients and their primary care providers.