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Campbell DG, Bonner LM, Bolkan CR, Lanto AB, Zivin K, Waltz TJ, Klap R, Rubenstein LV, Chaney EF. Stigma Predicts Treatment Preferences and Care Engagement Among Veterans Affairs Primary Care Patients with Depression. Annals of behavioral medicine : a publication of the Society of Behavioral Medicine. 2016 Aug 1; 50(4):533-44.
BACKGROUND: Whereas stigma regarding mental health concerns exists, the evidence for stigma as a depression treatment barrier among patients in Veterans Affairs (VA) primary care (PC) is mixed. PURPOSE: This study tests whether stigma, defined as depression label avoidance, predicted patients' preferences for depression treatment providers, patients' prospective engagement in depression care, and care quality. METHODS: We conducted cross-sectional and prospective analyses of existing data from 761 VA PC patients with probable major depression. RESULTS: Relative to low-stigma patients, those with high stigma were less likely to prefer treatment from mental health specialists. In prospective controlled analyses, high stigma predicted lower likelihood of the following: taking medications for mood, treatment by mental health specialists, treatment for emotional concerns in PC, and appropriate depression care. CONCLUSIONS: High stigma is associated with lower preferences for care from mental health specialists and confers risk for minimal depression treatment engagement.