Prognostic models for predicting relapse or recurrence of major depressive disorder in adults

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BACKGROUND: Relapse (the re-emergence of depressive symptoms after some level of improvement but preceding recovery) and recurrence (onset of a new depressive episode after recovery) are common in depression, lead to worse outcomes and quality of life for patients and exert a high economic cost on society. Outcomes can be predicted by using multivariable prognostic models, which use information about several predictors to produce an individualised risk estimate. The ability to accurately predict relapse or recurrence while patients are well (in remission) would allow the identification of high-risk individuals and may improve overall treatment outcomes for patients by enabling more efficient allocation of interventions to prevent relapse and recurrence.

OBJECTIVES: To summarise the predictive performance of prognostic models developed to predict the risk of relapse, recurrence, sustained remission or recovery in adults with major depressive disorder who meet criteria for remission or recovery.

SEARCH METHODS: We searched the Cochrane Library (current issue); Ovid MEDLINE (1946 onwards); Ovid Embase (1980 onwards); Ovid PsycINFO (1806 onwards); and Web of Science (1900 onwards) up to May 2020. We also searched sources of grey literature, screened the reference lists of included studies and performed a forward citation search. There were no restrictions applied to the searches by date, language or publication status .

SELECTION CRITERIA: We included development and external validation (testing model performance in data separate from the development data) studies of any multivariable prognostic models (including two or more predictors) to predict relapse, recurrence, sustained remission, or recovery in adults (aged 18 years and over) with remitted depression, in any clinical setting. We included all study designs and accepted all definitions of relapse, recurrence and other related outcomes. We did not specify a comparator prognostic model.

DATA COLLECTION AND ANALYSIS: Two review authors independently screened references; extracted data (using a template based on the CHecklist for critical Appraisal and data extraction for systematic Reviews of prediction Modelling Studies (CHARMS)); and assessed risks of bias of included studies (using the Prediction model Risk Of Bias ASsessment Tool (PROBAST)). We referred any disagreements to a third independent review author. Where we found sufficient (10 or more) external validation studies of an individual model, we planned to perform a meta-analysis of its predictive performance, specifically with respect to its calibration (how well the predicted probabilities match the observed proportions of individuals that experience the outcome) and discrimination (the ability of the model to differentiate between those with and without the outcome). Recommendations could not be qualified using the GRADE system, as guidance is not yet available for prognostic model reviews.

MAIN RESULTS: We identified 11 eligible prognostic model studies (10 unique prognostic models). Seven were model development studies; three were model development and external validation studies; and one was an external validation-only study. Multiple estimates of performance measures were not available for any of the models and, meta-analysis was therefore not possible. Ten out of the 11 included studies were assessed as being at high overall risk of bias. Common weaknesses included insufficient sample size, inappropriate handling of missing data and lack of information about discrimination and calibration. One paper (Klein 2018) was at low overall risk of bias and presented a prognostic model including the following predictors: number of previous depressive episodes, residual depressive symptoms and severity of the last depressive episode. The external predictive performance of this model was poor (C-statistic 0.59; calibration slope 0.56; confidence intervals not reported). None of the identified studies examined the clinical utility (net benefit) of the developed model.

AUTHORS' CONCLUSIONS: Of the 10 prognostic models identified (across 11 studies), only four underwent external validation. Most of the studies (n = 10) were assessed as being at high overall risk of bias, and the one study that was at low risk of bias presented a model with poor predictive performance. There is a need for improved prognostic research in this clinical area, with future studies conforming to current best practice recommendations for prognostic model development/validation and reporting findings in line with the Transparent Reporting of a multivariable prediction model for Individual Prognosis Or Diagnosis (TRIPOD) statement.

Original languageEnglish
Article numberCD013491
JournalCochrane Database of Systematic Reviews
Publication statusPublished - 6 May 2021

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