After six years of work and a budget of $33 million, the Sequences Treatment Alternatives to Relieve Depression (STAR*D) project, is set to move away from academic centers and into the busy real world environment of clinical practice.
During the research phase, more than 4,000 treatment-resistive patients with depression took part in trials that encompassed a variety of clinics across the country. STAR*D provided the basis for treatment guidelines to doctors. In an impressive set of results half of depressed patients became symptom-free or had major improvement after treatment.
STAR*D is now being developed as a computerized treatment system that will provide doctors with a step-by-step guide to assist in the treatment of depression at the time they see the patient.
Doctors may overlook follow-up questions and do not routinely use systematic measures during consultations. The software is designed to prompt the doctor to explore issues more deeply with the patient and in so doing will provide a systematic tool through which to measure progress.
Dr. Madhukar Trivedi, professor of psychiatry at UT Southwestern Medical Center and leader of the study said, "we know depression is similar to other chronic illnesses and yet treatable . . it's important to make sure that the research we have now works in the real world."
Only about 50 patients from the centers involved were included during the early stages of the research. In this latest phase it is estimated that as many as 8,000 patients per site who are involved in the study could be included.
Dr Trivedi has partnered with Centerstone, the nonprofit provider of community-based behavioural health services, in order to carry out the latest research.
UT Southwestern Medical Center. "Groundbreaking Depression Research Being Tested In Real-world Setting." ScienceDaily 12 June 2008. 13 June 2008 <http://www.sciencedaily.com /releases/2008/06/080612070402.htm>.