Shared decision making places an emphasis on patient understanding and engagement. However, when it comes to treatment selection, research tends to focus on how doctors select pharmaceutical treatments. The current study is a qualitative assessment of how patients choose among three common treatments that have varying degrees of scientific support and side effects. We used qualitative data from 157 undergraduates (44 males, 113 females; mean age = 21.89 years) that was collected as part of a larger correlational study of depression and critical thinking skills. Qualitative analysis revealed three major themes: shared versus independent decision making, confidence in the research and the drug, and cost and availability. Some participants preferred to rely on informal networks such as consumer testimonials while others expressed a false sense of security for over-the-counter treatments because they believe the drugs are regulated. Many indicated that they avoid seeking mental health services because of the time and money needed. The results indicate several factors influence selection of common depression treatments. Young adults indicate that when reading prescription information, they most often rely on perceptions including ease of access, price, and beliefs about drug regulations. General guidelines for treatment descriptions were created based on the qualitative analysis.

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