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Better Depression Treatment Through Data

New research from McLean Hospital uses a statistical algorithm to predict which depression patients are most likely to benefit from antidepressant medication. The study drew on data collected from a large multi-site clinical trial of antidepressant medications and analyzed patients’ demographic and clinical characteristics.

With this information, McLean co-investigators Christian A. Webb, PhD, and Diego A. Pizzagalli, PhD, developed a statistical algorithm predicting that one-third of subjects would derive meaningful therapeutic benefit from antidepressant medications, relative to placebo. Though little difference was observed between the medication and placebo groups overall, those predicted to be more suited to antidepressants had significantly better outcomes when assigned to the medication.

The researchers are now looking to further refine the algorithm for use in “real-world” clinics, in order to help personalize care plans for patients with depression and other conditions. “Rather than using a one-size-fits-all approach, we’d like to optimize our treatment recommendations for individual patients,” says Dr. Webb.