Does illness attribution affect treatment assignment in depression?

S. Schweizer*, F.P.M.L. Peeters, M.J.H. Huibers, J. Roelofs, J. Van Os, A. Arntz

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Objective: Little is known about depressed individuals' illness attributions and how these influence treatment assignment in clinical practice. The aim of the present study was to examine whether illness attribution across the domains of intraindividual, interpersonal and biological reasons was associated with treatment assignment in a naturalistic treatment setting.

Method: Illness attribution was assessed with the Reasons for Depression Questionnaire in 221 depressed individuals. Participants were assigned to either cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT), interpersonal therapy (IPT) or psychopharmacological treatment (PHT).

Results: Depressed individuals who strongly attributed their illness to intraindividual factors were more likely to be assigned to CBT, and depressed individuals attributing their depression to biological reasons were more likely to receive in PHT. In contrast, interpersonal illness attribution was not associated with treatment assignment.

Conclusions: Illness attribution influences treatment assignment to CBT and PHT. However, factors other than illness attribution for depression affect a treatment choice of IPT.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)418-426
JournalClinical Psychology and Psychotherapy
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2010
Externally publishedYes


  • Cognitive-Behaviour Therapy
  • Depression
  • Interpersonal Therapy
  • Psychopharmacological Therapy
  • Treatment Choice/Preference


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