Effect of Pharmacological Treatment of Depression on A1C and Quality of Life in Low-Income Hispanics and African Americans With Diabetes

A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial

  1. Diana Echeverry, MD,
  2. Petra Duran, BS,
  3. Curley Bonds, MD,
  4. Martin Lee, PHD and
  5. Mayer B. Davidson, MD
  1. From the Charles Drew University, Los Angeles, California.
  1. Corresponding author: Mayer B. Davidson, mayerdavidson{at}cdrewu.edu.


OBJECTIVE To determine whether pharmacological treatment of depression in low-income minorities with diabetes improves A1C and quality of life (QOL).

RESEARCH DESIGN AND METHODS This was a 6-month, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. Patients were screened for depression using Whooley's two-question tool at a county diabetes clinic. Depression was confirmed (or not) with the Computerized Diagnostic Interview Survey (CDIS) software program, and the severity of depression was assessed monthly by the Hamilton Depression Scale (HAM-D). Depressed subjects with A1C levels ≥8.0% were randomly assigned to receive either sertraline or placebo. Diabetes care was provided by nurses following detailed treatment algorithms who were unaware of therapy for depression.

RESULTS A total of 150 subjects answered positively to at least one question on Whooley's questionnaire. The positive predictive value for depression diagnosed by CDIS was 69, 67, and 84% for positive answers to question 1 only, question 2 only, or both, respectively. Of the 89 subjects who entered the study, 75 completed. An intention-to-treat analysis revealed significant differences between baseline and 6 months in HAM-D and pain scores, QOL, and A1C and systolic blood pressure levels in both groups, with no differences between groups for the first three but a significantly greater decrease with sertraline in A1C and systolic blood pressure levels. Changes in HAM-D scores and A1C levels were significantly correlated in all subjects (P = 0.45 [P < 10−6]).

CONCLUSIONS In this low-income minority population, pharmacological treatment of depression significantly improved A1C and systolic blood pressure levels compared with placebo.


  • Clinical trial reg. no. NCT00624013, clinicaltrials.gov.

  • The costs of publication of this article were defrayed in part by the payment of page charges. This article must therefore be hereby marked “advertisement” in accordance with 18 U.S.C. Section 1734 solely to indicate this fact.

    • Received April 27, 2009.
    • Accepted August 25, 2009.
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  1. Diabetes Care vol. 32 no. 12 2156-2160
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