Treatment Preferences of Adolescents and Young Adults with Depressive Symptoms: A Discrete Choice Experiment

Ruth C. Waumans*, Anna D.T. Muntingh, Jorien Veldwijk, Adriaan W. Hoogendoorn, Anton J.L.M. van Balkom, Neeltje M. Batelaan

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review



Depression in adolescents and young adults is common and causes considerable disease burden while hampering their development, leading to adverse consequences in later life. Although treatment is available, young people are a vulnerable group regarding uptake and completion of treatment. To improve this, insight into youth’s preferences for treatment is essential. 


The aim of this study was to investigate patient preferences for depression treatment in a Dutch sample aged 16–24 years using a discrete choice experiment (DCE). 


The study was conducted in The Netherlands between October 2018 and June 2019, and included 236 adolescents and young adults with current depressive symptoms or previous treatment. The DCE included five attributes (treatment type, frequency of appointment, waiting time, effectiveness, evaluation of therapeutic alliance) with corresponding levels. Results were analysed using latent class analysis. 


Results show a general preference for individual psychotherapy, treatment with high frequency, high effectiveness, short waiting time and a standard evaluation of the therapeutic alliance (‘click’ with the therapist) early in treatment. Latent class analysis revealed three different patterns of preferences regarding treatment type and willingness to engage in therapy. The first class showed a strong preference for individual therapy. The second class, including relatively older, higher educated and treatment-experienced participants, preferred high frequency treatment and was more open to different forms of therapy. The third class, including lower educated, younger and treatment-naïve adolescents showed reluctance to engage in therapy overall and in group therapy specifically. 


In this DCE, three classes could be identified that share similar preferences regarding treatment effectiveness, waiting time and evaluation of the therapeutic alliance, but varied considerably in their preference for treatment type (individual, group, or combined psychotherapy) and their willingness to engage. The results from this study may inform mental health care providers and institutions and help optimize professional care for adolescents and young adults with depressive symptoms, improving engagement in this vulnerable group.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)401-413
Number of pages13
JournalApplied Health Economics and Health Policy
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - May 2024

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© 2023, The Author(s), under exclusive licence to Springer Nature Switzerland AG.


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