Evaluating Clinical Trial Data: Outcome Measures

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Schizophrenia is too often a severely disabling disease, and the discovery of interventions that can ease or eliminate symptoms without troubling side effects has long been the goal of schizophrenia research. In this endeavor, researchers, clinicians, and patients all desire an optimal outcome; outcome measures, which measure the relative success or failure of an intervention, are accordingly important. In addition, the costs of pharmacologic interventions—particularly of the atypical antipsychotics—in schizophrenia make the optimal measurement of treatment outcomes critical. Sometimes outcomes are focused on minimizing costly events, such as rehospitalization, rather than focusing on patient-oriented outcomes. This article discusses the outcome measures employed in 5 clinical trials comparing atypical antipsychotics, examining their usefulness and suggesting types of outcome measures that may be useful in the future.

J Clin Psychiatry 2001;62(suppl 9):23-26