Tailored pharmacotherapy. Consultations about medication in a care programme for depression
background Despite the increasing rationalisation of mental health care, there are no specific recommendations regarding the number of contacts between a patient and a psychiatrist for the pharmacotherapy that forms part of the combined outpatient treatment (antidepressants and psychotherapy) of depression.
aim To consider the possibility of drawing up an advisory document regarding frequency, number and duration of consultations about medication in combined treatment for depression.
method We reviewed the literature and had qualitative interviews with psychiatrists and trainees in psychiatric residency.
results The literature focuses predominantly on diagnostics and patient characteristics that determine the amount of care required. Advice on medication and pharmacotherapy is provided only by experts. According to the interviews, in psychiatric practice many factors influence the number and duration of consultations. Nevertheless, a distinctive pattern emerged.
conclusion Regarding medication in the acute treatment phase, five or six visits to a psychiatrist are sufficient for most patients. Extra consultations have to be arranged for smaller groups of less stable patients and for crisis-prone patients.