Beyond Symptomatic Improvement: Assessing Real-World Outcomes in Patients With Major Depressive Disorder

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Objective: To quantify the negative impact that major depressive disorder (MDD) has on quality of life, disability, and work, family, and overall psychosocial functioning. Available scales that assess these areas of impairment as they relate to patients with MDD are described.

Data Sources: PubMed searches were conducted using the following terms: (MDD OR major depressive disorder) AND (absenteeism OR absente*); AND (quality of life OR QOL); AND (psychosocial function*); AND (presente* OR presenteeism); AND (health care cost* OR [health care] cost*); AND (health outcome*); AND (functional outcome*); AND (family life); AND (disabil* OR disability); AND (work function*); AND (unemployment OR unemploy*). The literature search was conducted in July 2008 and was restricted to English language articles. There were no limits set on the dates of the search.

Study Selection: Two hundred twenty potential articles were identified. Among these studies, 48 presented primary data directly demonstrating the effect of MDD on quality of life, disability, and work, family, and overall psychosocial functioning.

Data Extraction: Primary data were compiled from these studies and are summarily described. Available scales that assess quality of life, disability, and work, family, and overall psychosocial functioning are also described.

Data Synthesis: MDD was found to be associated with significant disability and declines in functioning and quality of life. The Sheehan Disability Scale, the 36-item Short-Form Health Survey, and the Work Limitations Questionnaire were the most commonly used scales according to this review of the literature, but the majority of studies used direct and indirect disability measures, such as health care and other disability-related costs.

Conclusions: In addition to assessing symptomatic outcomes, physicians should routinely assess their depressed patients on “real-world” outcomes. The development of a concise functional outcome measure specific to MDD is necessary for busy clinical practices.

Prim Care Companion J Clin Psychiatry 2010;12(2):e1–e14

Submitted: April 14, 2009; accepted August 4, 2009.

Published online: April 15, 2010 (doi:10.4088/PCC.09r00826blu).

Corresponding author: Alan M. Langlieb, MD, The Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, 624 N Broadway, Baltimore, MD 21205 (drlanglieb@gmail.com).

Prim Care Companion J Clin Psychiatry 2010;12(2):e1-e14

https://doi.org/10.4088/PCC.09r00826blu