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Journal Article


How Well Do Patient Activation Scores Predict Depression Outcomes One Year Later?

doctor healthcare patient

The Issue

Depression is a common and disabling disease that will affect approximately 16 percent of U.S. adults during their lifetimes. It can not only have notable effects on patients’ physical health but is also associated with a sizeable economic burden to society as well, owing to increased unemployment and lost work days. This Commonwealth Fund–supported study examines the degree to which a patient is “activated”—has the knowledge, skills, and confidence for self-managing health—can affect depression remission and response to treatment.

What the Study Found

In examining data from primary care patients at a large, nonprofit health care system in Minnesota, the researchers found that higher patient activation scores were positively associated with remission and response to treatment. The rate of remission within the population of depressed patients was 16.5 percent for those with the lowest activation scores and 31.4 percent for those with the highest scores.


While the researchers were not able to observe the steps patients took to alleviate depression, they say it is likely that activated patients were more motivated to seek solutions to their depression and follow prescribed regimens. Health care providers, they conclude, should look for ways to improve activation among their depressed patients. To provide more intensive outreach and support to patients who lack the ability to self-manage their health, providers also may want to segment their depressed patient population by activation score.

Publication Details



Rebecca M. Sacks

[email protected]


R. M. Sacks, J. Greene, J. H. Hibbard et al., “How Well Do Patient Activation Scores Predict Depression Outcomes One Year Later?” Journal of Affective Disorders, published online July 29, 2014.