Document Type


Publication Date



antidepressive agents, decision making, organizational, depression, group purchasing, health benefit plans, employee, humans, occupational health, United States

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)


Background: Employers can purchase high quality depression products that provide the type, intensity and duration of depression care management shown to improve work outcomes sufficiently for many employers to achieve a return on investment. The purpose of this randomized controlled trial was to test an intervention to encourage employers to purchase a high quality depression product for their workforce.

Methods: Twenty nine organizations recruited senior health benefit professional members representing public or private employers who had not yet purchased a depression product for all 100+ workers in their company. The research team used randomization blocked by company size to assign eligible employers to: (1) a presentation encouraging employers to purchase a high quality depression product accompanied by a scientifically-derived return on investment estimate, or (2) a presentation encouraging employers to work with their most subscribed health plan to improve depression treatment quality indicators. Two hundred ninety three employers (82.3% of 356) completed baseline data immediately before learning that 140 employers had been randomized to the evidence-based (EB) depression product presentation and 153 had been randomized to the usual care (UC) depression treatment quality indicator presentation. Analysis of 250 (85.3% of 293) employers who completed web-based interviews at 12 and/or 24 months was conducted to determine presentation impact on depression product appraisal and purchasing behavior.

Results: The intervention had no impact on depression product appraisal in 232 subjects (F = 2.36, p = .07) or depression product purchasing (chisquare = 1.82, p = .44) in 250 subjects. Depression product appraisal increased in companies with greater health benefit generosity whose benefit professionals were male. Depression product purchasing behavior increased in small companies compared to large companies, companies who knew a vendor that sold depression products at baseline, companies with greater health benefit risk taking, and companies with less politicalization of health care benefit decision making.

Conclusion: Policy makers need to build innovative bridges to the employer community to convince them to purchase evidence-based benefits, even when benefits offer potential financial savings.

Rights Information

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Was this content written or created while at USF?


Citation / Publisher Attribution

BMC Health Services Research, v. 14, art. 426, p. 1-12