Background: Major depressive disorder (MDD) has a highly recurrent nature. After successful treatment, it is important to identify individuals who are at risk of an unfavorable long-term course. Despite extensive research, there is no consensus yet on the clinically relevant predictors of long-term outcome in MDD, and no prediction models are implemented in clinical practice. The aim of this study was to create a prognostic index (PI) to estimate long-term depression severity after successful and high quality acute treatment for MDD. Methods: Data come from responders to cognitive therapy (CT) and interpersonal psychotherapy (IPT) in a randomized clinical trial (n = 85; CT = 45, IPT = 40). Primary outcome was depression severity, assessed with the Beck Depression Inventory II, measured throughout a 17-month follow-up phase. We examined 29 variables as potential predictors, using a model-based recursive partitioning method and bootstrap resampling in conjunction with backwards elimination. The selected predictors were combined into a PI. Individual PI scores were estimated using a cross-validation approach. Results: A total of three post-treatment predictors were identified: depression severity, hopelessness, and self-esteem. Cross-validated PI scores evidenced a strong correlation (r = 0.60) with follow-up depression severity. Conclusion: Long-term predictions of MDD are multifactorial, involving a combination of variables that each has a small prognostic effect. If replicated and validated, the PI can be implemented to predict follow-up depression severity for each individual after acute treatment response, and to personalize long-term treatment strategies.
- clinical trials
- cognitive therapy
- empirical supported treatments
- interpersonal psychotherapy