(HealthDay News) — Patients with a mental health disorder are more likely to reject treatment if it involves only medication, according to a study published online March 6 in Psychotherapy.

Roger Greenberg, PhD, a professor of psychology at the State University of New York’s Upstate Medical University in Syracuse, and colleagues analyzed 186 studies of patients who sought help for mental health conditions. Overall, the average treatment refusal rate was 8.2%.

Patients offered drug therapy alone were 1.76 times as likely to refuse treatment as those offered psychotherapy alone, the researchers found. Among patients who started treatment, more than 1 in 5 did not complete it. Again, patients on drug-only therapy were 1.20 times more likely to drop out of treatment early. Patients with depression were 2.16 times more likely to refuse drug therapy alone, and patients with panic disorders were 2.79 times more likely to refuse drug therapy alone.

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“Patients often desire an opportunity to talk with and work through their problems with a caring individual who might be able to help them better face their emotional experiences,” Greenberg said in a news release from the American Psychological Association. “Psychotropic medications may help a lot of people, and I think some do see them as a relatively easy and potentially quick fix, but I think others view their problems as more complex and worry that medications will only provide a temporary or surface level solution for the difficulties they are facing in their lives.”


  1. Swift JK, Greenberg RP, Tompkins KA, Parkin SR. Treatment refusal and premature termination in psychotherapy, pharmacotherapy, and their combination: A meta-analysis of head-to-head comparisons. Psychotherapy (Chic). March 2017. doi: 10.1037/pst0000104