Methods of testing feasibility for sequenced treatment alternatives to relieve depression (STAR*D)

Stephen R. Wisniewski, Diane Stegman, Madhukar Trivedi, Mustafa M. Husain, Heather Eng, Kathy Shores-Wilson, James Luther, Melanie M. Biggs, Diane Burroughs, A. Louise Ritz, Maurizio Fava, Frederic Quitkin, A. John Rush

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


In large multi-site trials, a feasibility or pilot study can be crucial to test the functionality of all aspects of conducting the study prior to the initiation of the formal study. A feasibility trial was conducted for the Sequenced Treatment Alternatives to Relieve Depression (STAR*D) Project, a multi-site, prospective, sequentially randomized, clinical trial of outpatients with nonpsychotic major depressive disorder. From 14 December 2000 to 8 June 2001, 42 patients were screened for enrollment into the STAR*D Feasibility Trial. Twenty-four patients who were eligible and consented to participate were treated with citalopram for up to 12 weeks. During the course of this trial, issues were raised that resulted in modifications to the study procedures. Modifications made as a result of this trial affected four domains: (1) communication, (2) patient and provider burden, (3) data collection forms, and (4) recruitment and retention of subjects. This paper describes what was learned during the STAR*D Feasibility Trial so researchers planning to conduct similar trials can learn the practical issues related to conducting such a research project. While the information gathered was useful, it did delay the initiation of the formal trial. We view this cost as an investment in the development of overall study procedures that should lead to a stronger study.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)241-248
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Psychiatric Research
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 2004


  • Depression
  • Feasibility
  • Functionality
  • Procedures
  • Treatment
  • Trials

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Biological Psychiatry


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