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1.  Hispanic Subgroups, Acculturation, and Substance Abuse Treatment Outcomes 
This study explored Hispanic subgroup differences in substance use treatment outcomes, and the relationship of acculturation characteristics to these outcomes. Data were from a multisite randomized clinical trial of motivational enhancement therapy versus treatment as usual in a sample of Spanish-speaking substance abusers. Participants were Cuban American (n=34), Mexican American (n=209), Puerto Rican (n=78), and other Hispanic American (n=54). Results suggested that Cuban Americans and individuals with more connection to Hispanic culture had lower treatment retention. Hispanics born in the U.S and those who spoke English at home had a lower percentage of days abstinent during weeks 5-16, although Puerto Ricans born in the U.S. and Cuban Americans living more years in the U.S. had a higher percentage of days abstinent in weeks 1-4 and 5-16, respectively. Results may inform future hypothesis-driven studies in larger Hispanic treatment seeking samples of the relationship between acculturation and treatment outcome.
PMCID: PMC4661119  PMID: 26362001
Hispanic subgroups; treatment outcomes; retention; abstinence; acculturation factors
2.  Rationale for Using Exercise in the Treatment of Stimulant Use Disorders 
The journal of global drug policy and practice  2012;6(1):
Novel approaches to the treatment of stimulant abuse and dependence are needed. Clinical data examining the use of exercise as a treatment for the abuse of nicotine, alcohol, and other substances suggest that exercise may be a beneficial treatment for stimulant abuse. In addition, exercise has been associated with improvements in many other health-related areas that may be adversely affected by stimulant use or its treatment, such as sleep disturbance, cognitive function, mood, weight, quality of life, and anhedonia. Neurobiological evidence provides plausible mechanisms by which exercise could positively affect treatment outcomes in stimulant abuse. The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) Clinical Trials Network (CTN) CTN-0037 Stimulant Reduction Intervention using Dosed Exercise (STRIDE) study is a multisite randomized clinical trial that compares exercise to health education as potential treatments for stimulant abuse or dependence. If effective, exercise may provide an additional approach to the treatment of stimulant use disorders.
PMCID: PMC4214380  PMID: 25364477
stimulant abuse; stimulant dependence; exercise; health education; behavioral intervention
3.  Do Menopausal Status and Use of Hormone Therapy Affect Antidepressant Treatment Response? Findings from the Sequenced Treatment Alternatives to Relieve Depression (STAR*D) Study 
Journal of Women's Health  2013;22(2):121-131.
Menopausal status and use of hormonal contraception or menopausal hormone therapy (HT) may affect treatment response to selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). This report evaluates whether menopausal status and use of hormonal contraceptives or menopausal HT affect outcome in women treated with citalopram.
In the Sequenced Treatment Alternatives to Relieve Depression (STAR*D) study, 896 premenopausal and 544 postmenopausal women were treated with citalopram for 12–14 weeks. Baseline demographic and clinical characteristics were used in adjusted analysis of the effect of menopausal status and use of hormonal contraceptives or menopausal HT on outcomes. Remission was defined as final Hamilton Rating Scale for Depression-17 (HRSD17) ≤7 or Quick Inventory of Depressive Symptomatology-Self-Report (QIDS-SR16) score ≤5 and response as ≥50% decrease from the baseline QIDS-SR16 score.
Premenopausal and postmenopausal women differed in multiple clinical and demographic baseline variables but did not differ in response or remission rates. Premenopausal women taking hormonal contraceptives had significantly greater unadjusted remission rates on the HRSD17 and the QIDS-SR16 than women not taking contraception. Response and remission rates were not different between postmenopausal women taking vs. not taking HT. Adjusted results showed no significant difference in any outcome measure across menopause status in women who were not taking contraception/HT. There were no significant differences in adjusted results across HT status in premenopausal or postmenopausal women.
In this study, citalopram treatment outcome was not affected by menopausal status. Hormonal contraceptives and HT also did not affect probability of good outcome.
PMCID: PMC3613168  PMID: 23398127
4.  Predictors of Abstinence: NIDA Multi-site Buprenorphine/Naloxone Treatment Trial in Opioid Dependent Youth 
To examine predictors of opioid abstinence in buprenorphine/naloxone (Bup/Nal) assisted psychosocial treatment for opioid dependent youth
Secondary analyses of data from 152 youth (ages 15–21) randomly assigned to 12 weeks of extended Bup/Nal therapy or up to 2 weeks of Bup/Nal detoxification, both with weekly individual and group drug counseling. Logistic regression models were constructed to identify baseline and during-treatment predictors of opioid positive urines (OPU) at week-12. Predictors were selected based on significance or trend toward significance (i.e. p<0.1) and backward stepwise selection was used, controlling for treatment group, to produce final independent predictors at p ≤ 0.05.
Youth presenting to treatment with past 30-day injection drug use (IDU) and more active medical/psychiatric problems were less likely to have a week-12 OPU. Those with early treatment opioid abstinence (i.e. weeks 1 and 2); and those who received additional non-study treatments during the study were less likely to have a week-12 OPU; and those not completing 12 weeks of treatment were more likely to have an OPU.
Youth with advanced illness (i.e. reporting IDU and additional health problems), and those receiving ancillary treatments to augment study treatment were more likely to have lower opioid use. Treatment success in the first 2 weeks and completion of 12 weeks of treatment were associated with lower rates of OPU. These findings suggest that youth with advanced illness respond well to Bup/Nal treatment, and identify options for tailoring treatment for opioid-dependent youth presenting at community-based settings.
PMCID: PMC3786351  PMID: 22024000
treatment predictors; opioid dependent youth; buprenorphine treatment
5.  Predictors of attrition with buprenorphine/naloxone treatment in opioid dependent youth☆ 
Addictive behaviors  2012;37(9):1046-1053.
In opioid dependent youth there is substantial attrition from medication-assisted treatment. If youth at risk for attrition can be identified at treatment entry or early in treatment, they can be targeted for interventions to help retain them in treatment.
Opioid dependent adolescents and young adults (n=152), aged 15–21, were randomized to 12 weeks (BUP, n=74) or 2 weeks of detoxification (DETOX, n=78) with buprenorphine/naloxone (Bup/Nal), both in combination with 12 weeks of psychosocial treatment. Baseline and early treatment related predictors of treatment attrition were identified in each group using bivariate and multivariate logistic regression.
In the DETOX group 36% left between weeks 2 and 4, at the end of the dose taper, while in the BUP group only 8% left by week 4. In the BUP group, early adherence to Bup/Nal, early opioid negative urines, use of any medications in the month prior to treatment entry, and lifetime non-heroin opioid use were associated with retention while prior 30-day hallucinogen use was associated with attrition. In the DETOX group, only use of sleep medications was associated with retention although not an independent predictor. A broad range of other pre-treatment characteristics was unrelated to attrition.
Prompt attention to those with early non-adherence to medication or an early opioid positive urine, markers available in the first 2 weeks of treatment, may improve treatment retention. Extended Bup/ Nal treatment appeared effective in improving treatment retention for youth with opioid dependence across a wide range of demographics, and pre-treatment clinical characteristics.
PMCID: PMC3691698  PMID: 22626890
Retention; Adherence; Opioid dependence; Youth; Adolescents; Buprenorphine
6.  Assessing anxious features in depressed outpatients 
Both the 17-item Hamilton Rating Scale for Depression (HRSD17) and 30-item Inventory of Depressive Symptomatology – Clinician-rated (IDS-C30) contain a subscale that assesses anxious symptoms. We used classical test theory and item response theory methods to assess and compare the psychometric properties of the two anxiety subscales (HRSDANX and IDS-CANX) in a large sample (N = 3453) of outpatients with non-psychotic major depressive disorder in the Sequenced Treatment Alternatives to Relieve Depression (STAR*D) study. Approximately 48% of evaluable participants had at least one concurrent anxiety disorder by the self-report Psychiatric Diagnostic Screening Questionnaire (PDSQ). The HRSDANX and IDS-CANX were highly correlated (r = 0.75) and both had moderate internal consistency given their limited number of items (HRSDANX Cronbach’s alpha = 0.48; IDS-CANX Cronbach’s alpha = 0.58). The optimal threshold for ascribing the presence/absence of anxious features was found at a total score of eight or nine for the HRSDANX and seven or eight for the IDS-CANX. It would seem beneficial to delete item 17 (loss of insight) from the HRSDANX as it negatively correlated with the scale’s total score. Both the HRSDANX and IDS-CANX subscales have acceptable psychometric properties and can be used to identify anxious features for clinical or research purposes.
PMCID: PMC3708141  PMID: 22057975
depression; anxiety; rating scales; STAR*D; measurement-based care
7.  Residual Symptoms in Depressed Outpatients Who Respond by 50% But Do Not Remit to Antidepressant Medication 
Little is known about the quantity or quality of residual depressive symptoms in patients with major depressive disorder (MDD) who have responded but not remitted with antidepressant treatment. This report describes the residual symptom domains and individual depressive symptoms in a large representative sample of outpatients with nonpsychotic MDD who responded without remitting after up to 12 weeks of citalopram treatment in the Sequenced Treatment Alternatives to Relieve Depression (STAR*D) study. Response was defined as 50% or greater reduction in baseline 16-item Quick Inventory of Depressive Symptomatology—Self-Report (QIDS-SR16) by treatment exit, and remission as a final QIDS-SR16 of less than 6. Residual symptom domains and individual symptoms were based on the QIDS-SR16 and classified as either persisting from baseline or emerging during treatment. Most responders who did not remit endorsed approximately 5 residual symptom domains and 6 to 7 residual depressive symptoms. The most common domains were insomnia (94.6%), sad mood (70.8%), and decreased concentration (69.6%). The most common individual symptoms were midnocturnal insomnia (79.0%), sad mood (70.8%), and decreased concentration/decision making (69.6%). The most common treatment-emergent symptoms were midnocturnal insomnia (51.4%) and decreased general interest (40.0%). The most common persistent symptoms were midnocturnal insomnia (81.6%), sad mood (70.8%), and decreased concentration/decision making (70.6%). Suicidal ideation was the least common treatment-emergent symptom (0.7%) and the least common persistent residual symptom (17.1%). These findings suggest that depressed outpatients who respond by 50% without remitting to citalopram treatment have a broad range of residual symptoms. Individualized treatments are warranted to specifically address each patient's residual depressive symptoms.
PMCID: PMC3677201  PMID: 21346613
depression; STAR*D; residual; symptoms; treatment response
8.  Exercise and Mental Illness: Results From the National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions (NESARC) 
Regular exercise is thought to be associated with low rates of mental illness, but this association has been inadequately studied. The purpose of this study was to test the hypotheses that the recommended amount of self-reported vigorous exercise would be cross-sectionally associated with reduced prevalence and incidence of various DSM-IV psychiatric disorders, as well as increased rates of remission.
Data were collected from 2001 to 2005 as part of the National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions (NESARC), a 2-wave face-to-face survey conducted by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. For this study, the sample consisted of 23,505 nondisabled adults aged between 18 and 65 years.
Individuals who engaged in vigorous exercise at Wave 2 were significantly more likely than were nonexercisers to be diagnosed with a current psychiatric disorder (adjusted odds ratio [AOR] = 1.22, 95% CI, 1.12–1.34 for the nationally recommended amount vs no exercise), significantly less likely to attain remission from a psychiatric disorder between waves (AOR = 0.77, 95% CI, 0.65–0.91), and significantly more likely to relapse or be newly diagnosed with a psychiatric disorder between waves (AOR = 1.15, 95% CI, 1.02–1.30). Alcohol dependence and bipolar II disorder were the disorders most strongly associated with exercise.
This investigation suggests that the pursuit of vigorous exercise is associated with a vulnerability to mental illness. This surprising finding may be due to reward-related factors that influence both exercise engagement and the expression of certain psychiatric disorders. Prospective trials will be helpful in further clarifying the associations between exercise and mental illness, as the relationships between the 2 are more complex than previously believed.
PMCID: PMC3652330  PMID: 22901347
9.  Major Depression and Treatment Response in Adolescents with ADHD and Substance Use Disorder 
Drug and alcohol dependence  2011;120(1-3):214-219.
Major depressive disorder (MDD) frequently co-occurs in adolescents with substance use disorders (SUD) and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), but the impact of MDD on substance treatment and ADHD outcomes and implications for clinical practice are unclear.
Adolescents (n=303; ages 13-18) meeting DSM-IV criteria for ADHD and SUD were randomized to Osmotic Release Methylphenidate (OROS-MPH) or placebo and 16 weeks of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). Adolescents with (n=38) and without (n=265) MDD were compared on baseline demographic and clinical characteristics as well as non-nicotine substance use and ADHD treatment outcomes.
Adolescents with MDD reported more non-nicotine substance use days at baseline and continued using more throughout treatment compared to those without MDD (p<0.0001 based on Timeline Followback; p<0.001 based on urine drug screens). There was no difference between adolescents with and without MDD in retention or CBT sessions attended. ADHD symptom severity (based on DSM-IV ADHD Rating Scale) followed a slightly different course of improvement although with no difference between groups in baseline or 16-week symptom severity or 16 week symptom reduction. There was no difference in days of substance use or ADHD symptom outcomes over time in adolescents with MDD or those without MDD treated with OROS-MPH or placebo. Depressed adolescents were more often female, older, and not court ordered.
These preliminary findings suggest that compared to non-depressed adolescents with ADHD and SUD, those with co-occurring MDD have more severe substance use at baseline and throughout treatment. Such youth may require interventions targeting depression.
PMCID: PMC3245790  PMID: 21885210
Major depressive disorder; substance use disorder; attention deficit hyperactivity disorder; adolescents; comorbid disorder; treatment outcomes
10.  Rationale and Methods for Site Selection for a Trial Using a Novel Intervention to Treat Stimulant Abuse 
Contemporary Clinical Trials  2011;33(1):29-37.
Although the selection of appropriate clinical sites has a significant impact on the successful conduct of clinical trials, no generally accepted model is available for site selection. Use of an appropriate site selection process is even more pertinent when conducting large scale, practical clinical trials in practice settings.
This report provides a rationale for selecting sites by identifying both a set of basic site selection criteria important to most trials as well as criteria specific to the features of a particular study’s design. In this two-tier system, although all these criteria must be met, some criteria are firm and viewed as essential for a site to conduct the trial. Other criteria, such as those that support study recruitment or participant retention, are flexible. These flexible criteria may be addressed through several alternative solutions that meet the original intent of the criterion.
We illustrate how the study specific features and requirements of Stimulant Reduction Intervention using Dosed Exercise (STRIDE), a multisite clinical trial evaluating the efficacy of exercise or health education, added to treatment as usual for stimulant abuse are linked to firm and flexible site selection criteria. We also present an iterative, multi-step approach to site selection including building awareness about the study and screening and evaluating sites using these criteria.
This simple model could maximize the chance that selected sites will implement a study successfully and achieve trial aims. It may be helpful to researchers who are developing criteria and methods for site selection for specific clinical trials.
PMCID: PMC3253926  PMID: 21946515
Site selection; clinical trials; effectiveness; efficacy; substance use; exercise
11.  Determining the Primary Endpoint for a Stimulant Abuse Trial: Lessons Learned from STRIDE (CTN 0037) 
No consensus is available for identifying the best primary outcome for substance abuse trials. While abstinence is the most desirable outcome for substance use interventions, a wide variety of other endpoints have been used to evaluate efficacy trials.
This report provides a framework for determining an optimal primary endpoint and the relevant measurement approach for substance use disorder treatment trials. The framework was developed based on a trial for stimulant abuse using exercise as an augmentation treatment, delivered within the NIDA Clinical Trials Network. The use of a common primary endpoint across trials will facilitate comparisons of treatment efficacy.
Primary endpoint options in existing substance abuse studies were evaluated. This evaluation included surveys of the literature for endpoints and measurement approaches, followed by assessment of endpoint choices against study design issues, population characteristics, tests of sensitivity and tests of clinical meaningfulness.
We concluded that the best current choice for a primary endpoint is percent days abstinent, as measured by the Time Line Follow Back (TLFB) interview conducted three times a week with recall aided by a take-home Substance Use Diary. To further improve the accuracy of the self-reported drug use, an algorithm will be applied to reconcile the results from the TLFB with the results of qualitative urine drug screens.
Scientific Significance
There is a need for a standardized endpoint in this field to allow for comparison across treatment studies, and we suggest that the recommended endpoint be considered for use in this field.
PMCID: PMC3274420  PMID: 21854276
cocaine abuse; methamphetamine abuse; measurement; abstinence endpoint; exercise
12.  Stimulant Reduction Intervention using Dosed Exercise (STRIDE) - CTN 0037: Study protocol for a randomized controlled trial 
Trials  2011;12:206.
There is a need for novel approaches to the treatment of stimulant abuse and dependence. Clinical data examining the use of exercise as a treatment for the abuse of nicotine, alcohol, and other substances suggest that exercise may be a beneficial treatment for stimulant abuse, with direct effects on decreased use and craving. In addition, exercise has the potential to improve other health domains that may be adversely affected by stimulant use or its treatment, such as sleep disturbance, cognitive function, mood, weight gain, quality of life, and anhedonia, since it has been shown to improve many of these domains in a number of other clinical disorders. Furthermore, neurobiological evidence provides plausible mechanisms by which exercise could positively affect treatment outcomes. The current manuscript presents the rationale, design considerations, and study design of the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) Clinical Trials Network (CTN) CTN-0037 Stimulant Reduction Intervention using Dosed Exercise (STRIDE) study.
STRIDE is a multisite randomized clinical trial that compares exercise to health education as potential treatments for stimulant abuse or dependence. This study will evaluate individuals diagnosed with stimulant abuse or dependence who are receiving treatment in a residential setting. Three hundred and thirty eligible and interested participants who provide informed consent will be randomized to one of two treatment arms: Vigorous Intensity High Dose Exercise Augmentation (DEI) or Health Education Intervention Augmentation (HEI). Both groups will receive TAU (i.e., usual care). The treatment arms are structured such that the quantity of visits is similar to allow for equivalent contact between groups. In both arms, participants will begin with supervised sessions 3 times per week during the 12-week acute phase of the study. Supervised sessions will be conducted as one-on-one (i.e., individual) sessions, although other participants may be exercising at the same time. Following the 12-week acute phase, participants will begin a 6-month continuation phase during which time they will attend one weekly supervised DEI or HEI session.
Clinical Trials Registry, NCT01141608
PMCID: PMC3191354  PMID: 21929768
stimulant abuse; stimulant dependence; exercise; health education; behavioral intervention
13.  Early Adverse Events and Attrition in SSRI Treatment: A Suicide Assessment Methodology Study (SAMS) Report 
Adverse events during selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) treatment are frequent and may lead to premature treatment discontinuation. If attrition is associated with early worsening of side effects or the frequency, intensity, or burden of side effects, interventions to maximize retention could be focused on patients with these events. Outpatient participants (n=265) with nonpsychotic major depressive disorder entered an 8-week trial with an SSRI. At baseline and week 2, specific side effects were evaluated with the Systematic Assessment for Treatment Emergent Events – Systematic Inquiry, and at week 2 the Frequency, Intensity, and Burden of Side Effects Rating globally assessed side effects. Attrition was defined by those participants who left treatment after week 2 but before week 8. No specific week 2 side effect, either treatment emergent or with worsening intensity, was independently associated with attrition. Global ratings of side effect frequency, intensity, or burden at week 2 were also not associated with subsequent attrition. Neither global ratings nor specific side effects at week 2 were related to patient attrition during SSRI treatment. Other factors appear to contribute to patient decisions about continuing with treatment.
PMCID: PMC3119579  PMID: 20473060
attrition; adherence; adverse events; antidepressant; depression
14.  Identifying Risk for Attrition during Treatment for Depression 
Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics  2009;78(6):372-379.
Understanding patients’ ambivalence about treatment persistence may be useful in tailoring retention interventions for individual patients with major depressive disorder.
Participants (n = 265) with major depressive disorder were enrolled into an 8-week trial with a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor. At baseline and week 2, the participants were asked about their intent to return for the next visit, complete the study and continue in the study should they experience side effects or no improvement. Dropouts were defined as participants who discontinued attending clinic visits before completing the trial.
Participants who at baseline reported an uncertain/negative intent to continue if they experienced side effects or no improvement dropped out at a significantly higher rate by weeks 6 and 8. Uncertain/negative intent at week 2 predicted attrition at all following visits. Dropouts without side effects were more likely to have reported an uncertain/negative intent to attend at both baseline and week 2, while dropouts who experienced side effects were more likely to have reported an uncertain/negative intent to attend only at baseline. Positive intent to continue was associated with greater symptom improvement in both dropouts and completers despite the possibility of lack of efficacy.
Participants’ pretreatment concerns about continuing antidepressant treatment in the presence of side effects signals challenges to the completion of a full 8-week acute phase treatment, even if the participant does not develop side effects. Individualized review of concerns and tailoring appropriate interventions may be necessary to reduce attrition.
PMCID: PMC2820313  PMID: 19738403
Attrition; Adherence; Depression; Antidepressant; Attitudes
15.  Predictors of Attrition During One Year of Depression Treatment: A Roadmap to Personalized Intervention 
Journal of psychiatric practice  2009;15(2):113-124.
Attrition from treatment in the short and long term for major depressive disorder (MDD) is clearly an adverse outcome. To assist in tailoring the delivery of interventions to specific patients to reduce attrition, this study reports the incidence, timing, and predictors of attrition from outpatient treatment in public mental health clinics.
Outpatients with psychotic and nonpsychotic MDD receiving measurement-based care in the Texas Medication Algorithm Project (N = 179) were evaluated to determine timing and rates of attrition as well as baseline sociodemographic, clinical, and attitudinal predictors of attrition.
Overall, 23% (42/179) of the patients left treatment by 6 months, and 47% (84/179) left by 12 months. Specific beliefs about the impact of medication, such as its perceived harmfulness, predicted attrition at both 6 and 12 months. Younger age (p = 0.0004) and fewer side effects at baseline (p = 0.0376) were associated with attrition at 6 months. Younger age (p = 0.0013), better perceived physical functioning (p = 0.0007), and more negative attitudes about psychiatric medications at baseline (p = 0.0075) were associated with attrition at 12 months.
Efforts to elicit attitudes about medications and tailoring educational and other retention interventions for patients with negative beliefs about antidepressants both when initiating a new medication and throughout treatment may reduce attrition. Particular focus on younger patients and those requiring frequent visits may be helpful.
PMCID: PMC2866198  PMID: 19339845
adherence; compliance; major depressive disorder; antidepressant medication; beliefs; attitudes; attrition
16.  Sex Differences in Response to Citalopram: A STAR*D Report 
Journal of psychiatric research  2008;43(5):503-511.
Controversy exists as to whether women with depression respond better to selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) than men. The purpose of this report was to determine whether men and women differ in their responses to treatment with the SSRI citalopram using a large sample of real world patients from primary and psychiatric specialty care settings.
As part of the Sequenced Treatment Alternatives to Relieve Depression (STAR*D) study, 2876 participants were treated with citalopram for up to 12-14 weeks. Baseline demographic and clinical characteristics and outcomes were gathered and compared between men and women.
At baseline, women were younger, had more severe depressive symptoms and were more likely to have: early onset; previous suicide attempt(s); a family history of depression, alcohol abuse or drug abuse; atypical symptom features; and one or more of several concurrent psychiatric disorders. Despite greater baseline severity and more Axis I comorbidities, women were more likely to reach remission and response with citalopram than men.
Women have a better response to the SSRI citalopram than men, which may be due to sex-specific biological differences particularly in serotonergic systems.
PMCID: PMC2681489  PMID: 18752809
antidepressants; gender differences; estradiol; women's health; depression
17.  An Open Pilot Study of the Combination of Escitalopram and Bupropion-SR for Outpatients With Major Depressive Disorder 
Journal of psychiatric practice  2008;14(5):271-280.
Monotherapy with a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) is the most common initial treatment for major depressive disorder (MDD), but this monotherapy leads to remission in fewer than a third of patients. The combination of the SSRI escitalopram and bupropion-SR is commonly used for treating patients with MDD who have had an inadequate response to antidepressant monotherapy. This pilot study was conducted to evaluate this combination in the treatment of MDD in patients with chronic or recurrent MDD to estimate safety, tolerability, and remission rates.
In this study, 51 outpatients with chronic or recurrent non-psychotic MDD were treated with a combination of escitalopram and bupropion-SR for up to 12 weeks. Participants were started on escitalopram at 10 mg/day, and bupropion-SR was then added at week 1, starting at 150 mg/day. The maximum dose of escitalopram was 20 mg/day and the maximum dose of bupropion-SR was 400 mg/day.
Rates of response (62%) and remission (50%) at study exit (based on participants for whom at least one post-baseline measure was collected) were significantly higher than is typical for SSRI monotherapy. The level of treatment emergent events was low, and only 3 participants (6%) discontinued treatment due to side effects. The mean maximum dose of escitalopram was 18 mg/day, which was achieved by week 6, and the mean dose at study exit was also 18 mg/day. The mean maximum dose of bupropion-SR was 329 mg/day, which was achieved by week 8, and the mean dose at study exit was 327 mg/day.
These results suggest that the combination of escitalopram and bupropion-SR is effective and well tolerated. Further controlled trials comparing this combination with monotherapy are needed.
PMCID: PMC2778329  PMID: 18832958
major depressive disorder; bupropion; escitalopram; medication combinations; adverse events
18.  The Montgomery Äsberg and the Hamilton Ratings of Depression 
The 17-item Hamilton Rating Scale for Depression (HRSD17) and the Montgomery Äsberg Depression Rating Scale (MADRS) are two widely used clinicianrated symptom scales. A 6-item version of the HRSD (HRSD6) was created by Bech to address the psychometric limitations of the HRSD17. The psychometric properties of these measures were compared using classical test theory (CTT) and item response theory (IRT) methods. IRT methods were used to equate total scores on any two scales. Data from two distinctly different outpatient studies of nonpsychotic major depression: a 12-month study of highly treatment-resistant patients (n=233) and an 8-week acute phase drug treatment trial (n=985) were used for robustness of results.
MADRS and HRSD6 items generally contributed more to the measurement of depression than HRSD17 items as shown by higher item-total correlations and higher IRT slope parameters. The MADRS and HRSD6 were unifactorial while the HRSD17 contained 2 factors. The MADRS showed about twice the precision in estimating depression as either the HRSD17 or HRSD6 for average severity of depression. An HRSD17 of 7 corresponded to an 8 or 9 on the MADRS and 4 on the HRSD6.
The MADRS would be superior to the HRSD17 in the conduct of clinical trials.
PMCID: PMC2151980  PMID: 16769204
MADRS; HRSD; item response theory; classical test theory; psychometrics

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