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Original Research

Predicting Remission From Depression in Youth Receiving Outpatient Medication Management

Kennedy M. Balzen, BSa; Jane K. Hensley, MRCa; Paul A. Nakonezny, PhDa,b; Jessica Jones, MAa; Betsy D. Kennard, PsyDa,c,d; and Graham J. Emslie, MDa,d,*

Published: May 17, 2023


Objective: To examine 6-month remission rates of adolescents treated for depression in a university-based clinic and examine predictors of eventual remission.

Methods: All patients aged 11–18 years treated in the clinic completed self-report measures assessing depression, suicidal ideation, anxiety, and associated symptoms. Remission was operationalized as a total score of ≤ 4 on the Patient Health Questionnaire-9 (PHQ-9) within 6 months of entering treatment.

Results: Of the 430 patients, (76.74% female, 65.34% Caucasian, mean ± SD age 14.65 ± 1.69 years), 26.74% achieved remission within 6 months. Mean ± SD scores on the PHQ-9 at visit 1 (clinic entry) were 11.97 ± 4.76 for remitters (n = 115) and 15.03 ± 5.21 for non-remitters (n = 315). Predicted odds of remitting decreased as depressive symptom severity at visit 1 increased (OR = 0.941; 95% CI, 0.886 to 1.000; P = .051) and as scores on the Concise Associated Symptoms Tracking scale at treatment entry increased (OR = 0.971; 95% CI, 0.948 to 0.995; P = .017). As depression severity increased between visits, odds of remitting decreased (OR = 0.873; 95% CI, 0.827 to 0.921; P < .0001). Finally, adolescent males were more likely to achieve remission than females within 6 months (OR = 2.257; 95% CI, 1.351 to 3.771; P = .002).

Conclusions: This study reports remission rates for depressed youth receiving medication management in a naturalistic outpatient setting. Results confirm that depression severity at treatment initiation and over time is a strong predictor of remission status. Additionally, monitoring associated symptoms via measurement-based care can provide important clinical information to inform treatment decisions.

Volume: 84

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