Clinical Significance of Monitoring Early Symptom Change to Predict Outcome

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Even with efforts to develop medication algorithms for the treatment of psychiatric illnesses, there is no single authoritative method that can be used to incorporate multiple factors in the treatment decision process. For this reason, physicians are faced with the often daunting task of sifting through the numerous treatment options for psychiatric illness to develop an approach that will prove the most successful for their patients. Investigating patient patterns of response, particularly during the acute phase of treatment, and bearing them in mind when developing treatment protocols may assist clinicians in optimally managing the degree and course of symptom response. We present here a consideration of the timing and nature of response as well as individual patient predictors, which may impact therapy decisions. Furthermore, we explore the clinical significance of integrating response patterns into the treatment approach. We believe that an analysis of response patterns, in conjunction with the use of other practice guidelines, is a viable method to more effectively navigate critical decision points in the treatment process and ultimately have a dramatic effect on patient outcome.

J Clin Psychiatry 2001;62(suppl 4):27-33