Depression in primary care: Review of AHCPR guidelines

Lawrence J. Cohen, Sally K. Guthrie

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


OBJECTIVE: To present an overview and evaluation of the Agency for Health Care Policy and Research (AHCPR) clinical practice guidelines for the treatment of depression. INTRODUCTION: One responsibility of the AHCPR is the development and periodic review and update of clinical practice guidelines. This process is undertaken by an independent panel composed of groups of clinicians and other experts from the private sector. Their findings are published in a four volume, softcover set of booklets. DATA SOURCE AND EVALUATION: Volume 2 in the four-volume set includes a comprehensive compilation, synthesis, and critical evaluation of the studies of different treatments for depression. Studies included for evaluation were randomized, prospective clinical trials that were pertinent to all topics concerning the treatment of depression. In some areas, the opinions of the panel were included due to a paucity of data from well-controlled clinical trials. Each AHCPR guideline was followed by a code that indicated whether the strength of evidence supporting that guideline was based on good or fair research-based evidence, or whether it was based primarily on panel members' opinions. CONCLUSIONS: With regard to drag treatment, the guidelines are good. However, since these guidelines were published in 1993 they might be considered somewhat dated because more antidepressants have become available in the interim. Overall, the AHCPR guidelines reflect an extensive review of the literature provided by the panel, as well as input from a highly respected group of reviewers. The panel included physicians, a nurse, a social worker, a psychologist, and a consumer representative. Unfortunately, a pharmacist was not included on the panel. Input from pharmacy practitioners would have been valuable.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)782-785
Number of pages4
JournalAnnals of Pharmacotherapy
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 1997


  • Agency for Health Care Policy and Research guidelines
  • Depression


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