Acute and longer-term outcomes in depressed outpatients requiring one or several treatment steps: A STAR*D report

A. John Rush, Madhukar H. Trivedi, Stephen R. Wisniewski, Andrew A. Nierenberg, Jonathan W. Stewart, Diane Warden, George Niederehe, Michael E. Thase, Philip W. Lavori, Barry D. Lebowitz, Patrick J. McGrath, Jerrold F. Rosenbaum, Harold A. Sackeim, David J. Kupfer, James Luther, Maurizio Fava

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3518 Scopus citations


Objective: This report describes the participants and compares the acute and longer-term treatment outcomes associated with each of four successive steps in the Sequenced Treatment Alternatives to Relieve Depression (STAR*D) trial. Method: A broadly representative adult outpatient sample with nonpsychotic major depressive disorder received one (N= 3,671) to four (N=123) successive acute treatment steps. Those not achieving remission with or unable to tolerate a treatment step were encouraged to move to the next step. Those with an acceptable benefit, preferably symptom remission, from any particular step could enter a 12-month naturalistic follow-up phase. A score of ≤5 on the Quick Inventory of Depressive Symptomatology-Self-Report (QIDS-SR 16) (equivalent to ≤7 on the 17-item Hamilton Rating Scale for Depression [HRSD17]) defined remission; a QIDS-SR16 total score of ≥11 (HRSD17≥14) defined relapse. Results: The QIDS-SR16 remission rates were 36.8%, 30.6%, 13.7%, and 13.0% for the first, second, third, and fourth acute treatment steps, respectively. The overall cumulative remission rate was 67%. Overall, those who required more treatment steps had higher relapse rates during the naturalistic follow-up phase. In addition, lower relapse rates were found among participants who were in remission at follow-up entry than for those who were not after the first three treatment steps. Conclusions: When more treatment steps are required, lower acute remission rates (especially in the third and fourth treatment steps) and higher relapse rates during the follow-up phase are to be expected. Studies to identify the best multistep treatment sequences for individual patients and the development of more broadly effective treatments are needed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1905-1917
Number of pages13
JournalAmerican Journal of Psychiatry
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 2006

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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