Comparative Study
Journal Article
Randomized Controlled Trial
Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
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Treatment-resistant depressed youth show a higher response rate if treatment ends during summer school break.

OBJECTIVE: There is little work on the effect of school on response to treatment of depression, with available research suggesting that children and adolescents with school difficulties are less likely to respond to fluoxetine compared with those with no school difficulties.

METHOD: Depressed adolescents in the Treatment of Resistant Depression in Adolescents study, who had not responded to a previous adequate selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) trial, were randomly assigned to one of the following: another SSRI, venlafaxine, another SSRI + cognitive behavior therapy (CBT), or venlafaxine + CBT. Participants were classified into four groups depending on whether their enrollment in the study and end of treatment was during school or summer vacation.

RESULTS: Controlling for baseline differences, adolescents ending their 12-week treatment during summer vacation had odds 1.7 times (95% confidence interval = 1.02-2.8, p = .04) greater to have an adequate response as those ending their treatment while being in school. In addition, adequate depression response was associated with fewer school problems at week 12 (scores <5 versus scores ≥5: odds ratio = 3.3, 95% confidence interval = 1.9-5.8, p < .001). There was a significant interaction between school difficulties and timing of treatment, with the lowest rates of response being among adolescents having school difficulties and ending their treatment during the active school year.

CONCLUSION: School problems are relevant to treatment response in depressed adolescents and should be incorporated into the treatment plan. These findings also suggest that the time of the year might need to be taken into consideration for analysis of clinical trials in school-aged youth.

CLINICAL TRIAL REGISTRATION INFORMATION: Treatment of SSRI-Resistant Depression in Adolescents (TORDIA);; NCT00018902.

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