Patients’ attitudes toward conventional and herbal treatments for depression and anxiety: A cross-sectional Israeli survey

Or Burstein, Alon Shamir, Nurit Abramovitz, Ravid Doron

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: As many patients view conventional antidepressants and anxiolytics negatively, it is not surprising that the willingness to apply these treatments is far from ideal, thus posing a critical barrier in promoting an effective and durable treatment. Aim: The present study aimed to explore patients’ attitudes toward conventional and herbal treatments for depression and anxiety, while considering cultural and demographic factors, to further elucidate the antecedes that putatively determine the treatment’s outcome. Methods: During June 2017, a cross-sectional survey was conducted using stratified sampling from a large-scale Israeli volunteer online panel. The final sample included 591 Jewish Israeli adults that reported they were suffering from depression or anxiety. Results: A heterogeneous range of attitudes toward treatment was found: for example, a large group of patients did not utilize prescription medications (39%), a professional consultation (12.9%), or any form of treatment (17.4%). Interestingly, these patients were significantly more likely to support naturally-derived treatments and were less concerned with scientific proof. Further, adverse effects were demonstrated as a prominent factor in the choice of treatment. A higher incidence of adverse effects was associated with an increased willingness to consider an alternative herbal treatment. Noteworthy attitudes were found in orthodox-Jewish individuals, who showed similar consultation rates, but utilized more psychological, rather than pharmacological treatments. Conclusions: It is proposed that patients’ perspectives and cultural backgrounds are needed to be taken into consideration during the clinical assessment and choice of treatment. The findings imply that a particular emphasis should be placed on patients that discard conventional pharmacological options and on distinct cultural aspects. Several recommendations for revising the current policy are advocated to promote more culturally-informed and patient-oriented care.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)589-599
Number of pages11
JournalInternational Journal of Social Psychiatry
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 2022

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s) 2021.


  • Depression
  • antidepressants
  • anxiety
  • anxiolytics
  • attitudes
  • herbal treatment
  • orthodox-Jews
  • survey


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