Journal of affective disorders

A protocol for the pharmacologic treatment of major depression. A field test of a potential prototype.

PMID 9476748


Much attention is being given to developing clinical practice guidelines for management of mental health disorders. The aim of this study was to field test a prototype protocol for the pharmacologic treatment of Major Depression. The protocol consisted of four, six week, treatment phases with critical choices in therapy defined by scores on the MADRS (Montgomery Asberg Depression Rating Scale). Observational data as collected on the behaviour of the protocol in terms of relevance, acceptability, ease of use and effectiveness. Effectiveness of the protocol was good for those patients who were retained within it, with three quarters of them attaining remission. However more than half of all patients dropped out-non attendance and adverse events being the most common reasons for this. The protocol for the treatment of Major Depression appeared relevant, easy to use and potentially effective. Problems with non-adherence by both doctors and patients posed major challenges to the protocol's design. Such difficulties demonstrate the need to field test any proposed design as preconceptions about a protocol's performance may be misplaced. The protocol tested represents progress towards the goal of developing optimal strategies for the use of pharmacotherapeutic agents in the treatment of depression.