A prognostic index for long-term outcome after successful acute phase cognitive therapy and interpersonal psychotherapy for major depressive disorder

Suzanne C van Bronswijk, Lotte H J M Lemmens, John R Keefe, Marcus J H Huibers, Robert J DeRubeis, Frenk P M L Peeters

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BACKGROUND: Major depressive disorder (MDD) has a highly recurrent nature. After successful treatment, it is important to identify individuals who are at risk of an unfavorable long-term course. Despite extensive research, there is no consensus yet on the clinically relevant predictors of long-term outcome in MDD, and no prediction models are implemented in clinical practice. The aim of this study was to create a prognostic index (PI) to estimate long-term depression severity after successful and high quality acute treatment for MDD.

METHODS: Data come from responders to cognitive therapy (CT) and interpersonal psychotherapy (IPT) in a randomized clinical trial (n = 85; CT = 45, IPT = 40). Primary outcome was depression severity, assessed with the Beck Depression Inventory II, measured throughout a 17-month follow-up phase. We examined 29 variables as potential predictors, using a model-based recursive partitioning method and bootstrap resampling in conjunction with backwards elimination. The selected predictors were combined into a PI. Individual PI scores were estimated using a cross-validation approach.

RESULTS: A total of three post-treatment predictors were identified: depression severity, hopelessness, and self-esteem. Cross-validated PI scores evidenced a strong correlation (r = 0.60) with follow-up depression severity.

CONCLUSION: Long-term predictions of MDD are multifactorial, involving a combination of variables that each has a small prognostic effect. If replicated and validated, the PI can be implemented to predict follow-up depression severity for each individual after acute treatment response, and to personalize long-term treatment strategies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)252-261
Number of pages10
JournalDepression and Anxiety
Issue number3
Early online date5 Dec 2018
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2019


  • Clinical trials
  • cognitive therapy
  • depresseion
  • empirical supported treatments
  • interpersonal psychotherapy

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