, Volume 25, Issue 1, pp 25–37 | Cite as

Cost Effectiveness of a Pharmacy-Based Coaching Programme to Improve Adherence to Antidepressants

  • Judith E. Bosmans
  • Oscar H. Brook
  • Hein P. J. van Hout
  • Martine C. de Bruijne
  • Hugo Nieuwenhuyse
  • Lex M. Bouter
  • Wim A. B. Stalman
  • Maurits W. van Tulder
Original Research Article



The efficacy of antidepressants in the treatment of depression has been convincingly demonstrated in randomised trials. However, non-adherence to antidepressant treatment is common.


To evaluate, from a societal perspective, the cost effectiveness of a pharmacy-based intervention to improve adherence to antidepressant therapy in adult patients receiving treatment in primary care.


An economic evaluation was performed alongside a 6-month randomised controlled trial in The Netherlands.

Patients who came to 19 pharmacies with a new prescription for a non-tricyclic antidepressant, i.e. those who had not received any prescription for an antidepressant in the past 6 months, were invited to participate. They were then randomly allocated to education and coaching by the pharmacist or to usual care. The coaching programme consisted of three contacts with the pharmacist, with a mean duration of between 13 and 20 minutes, and a take-home video reviewing important facts on depression and antidepressant treatment.

The clinical outcome measures were adherence to antidepressant treatment measured using an electronic pill container (eDEM) and improvement in depressive symptoms measured using the Hopkins Symptom Checklist (SCL). Resource use was measured by means of questionnaires. The uncertainty around differences in costs and cost effectiveness between the treatment groups was evaluated using bootstrapping.


Seventy patients were randomised to the intervention group and 81 to the usual care group; of these, 40 in the intervention group and 48 in the control group completed all of the follow-up questionnaires.

There were no significant differences in adherence, improvements in the SCL depression mean item score and costs over 6 months between the two treatment groups. Mean total costs (2002 values) were €3275 in the intervention group and €2961 in the control group (mean difference €315; 95% CI —1922, 2416). The incremental cost-effectiveness ratio associated with the pharmacist intervention was €149 per 1% improvement in adherence and €2550 per point improvement in the SCL depression mean item score. Cost-effectiveness planes and acceptability curves indicated that the pharmacist intervention was not likely to be cost effective compared with usual care.


In patients starting treatment with antidepressants, there were no significant differences in adherence, severity of depression, costs and cost effectiveness between patients receiving coaching by a pharmacist and patients receiving usual care after 6 months. Considering the resources needed to implement an intervention like this in clinical practice, based on these results, the continuation of usual care is recommended.


Usual Care Antidepressant Treatment Community Pharmacist Usual Care Group Human Capital Approach 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



The Dutch Health Care Insurance Board (DHCIB) financed this trial (grant number OG 01–146). The funding source had no involvement in the production of this manuscript; the views expressed in this paper are those of the authors only and are not attributable to the DHCIB. The authors have no conflicts of interest directly relevant to the content of this study.

The study was designed by Hein van Hout, Oscar Brook and Hugo Nieuwenhuyse. The data were collected by Oscar Brook and Hein van Hout. Judith Bosmans and Martine de Bruijne analysed the cost-effectiveness data. The data were interpreted by Judith Bosmans, Oscar Brook, Hein van Hout and Martine de Bruijne. All authors contributed to the drafting and preparation of the paper.


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Copyright information

© Adis Data Information BV 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Judith E. Bosmans
    • 1
  • Oscar H. Brook
    • 2
  • Hein P. J. van Hout
    • 3
  • Martine C. de Bruijne
    • 1
  • Hugo Nieuwenhuyse
    • 2
  • Lex M. Bouter
    • 4
  • Wim A. B. Stalman
    • 3
  • Maurits W. van Tulder
    • 1
    • 5
  1. 1.Health Technology Assessment UnitInstitute for Research in Extramural Medicine, VU University Medical CenterAmsterdamThe Netherlands
  2. 2.International Health FoundationThe Netherlands
  3. 3.Department of General PracticeInstitute for Research in Extramural Medicine, VU University Medical CenterAmsterdamThe Netherlands
  4. 4.Institute for Research in Extramural Medicine, VU University Medical CenterAmsterdamThe Netherlands
  5. 5.Institute for Health Sciences, Faculty of Earth and Life Sciences, VU UniversityAmsterdamThe Netherlands

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