- The purpose of this study was to determine whether sertraline would be well tolerated and effective in patients who had failed fluoxetine therapy or were unable to tolerate the medication.Hospital records were reviewed for 88 consecutive patients started on sertraline treatment at McLean Hospital from February 11, 1992 to August 28, 1992. Forty-two patients were identified who had received sertraline treatment and who had had previous trials of fluoxetine. Patients were contacted after discharge to determine sertraline efficacy and side effects. A variety of patient characteristics and outcome measures were compared.Thirty-nine subjects (93%) were available for follow-up interviews. The DSM-III-R diagnoses at discharge were as follows: major depression (N=25), bipolar depression (N=6), schizoaffective disorder (N=4), and obsessive-compulsive disorder (N=4). The sertraline discontinuation rate was 64% (25/39) by a mean +/- SD of 2.3 +/- 2.1 months. In patients with major depression (N=25) and bipolar depression (N=6) discharged on sertraline, only 13 (42%) were considered responders to sertraline therapy, and at follow-up, only 8 (26%) of 31 were considered responders to sertraline therapy. Patients who had previously discontinued fluoxetine because of side effects were significantly more likely to have side effects during sertraline treatment (p = .027), and to have discontinued sertraline at follow-up (p = .018).Sertraline was found to be modestly efficacious and associated with numerous side effects and discontinuation rates in patients who had previously discontinued fluoxetine.