A persistent depressive disorder has a major impact on both patients and health care systems. Despite the advice in guidelines to seek a second opinion if there is insufficient evidence of recovery after treatment, and the great number of second opinions in psychiatric care for patients with persistent depression, only a few studies have been published about their effects.
Multilevel analyses were conducted to compare the mean test scores of a group of patients with a persistent depressive disorder who received the intervention of a second opinion with scores from a matched control group, at 3 time points: baseline, intervention, and follow-up.
A significant decrease in the severity of depression 3 months after the second opinion was found. No effects on quality of life or treatment satisfaction were found.
The study sample was a convenience sample without randomization, and many values were missing in the data. In addition, a 3-month follow-up may have been too short to expect effects of the recommendations from the second opinion. The instructions concerning how to rate treatment satisfaction were also ambiguous.
A second opinion can be of value for persistent depression. Further research should address the question of whether the effect that was found is caused by the second opinion itself or is the result of subsequent changes in treatment.