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Missing Data? – Only Half of Depression Treatment Studies in the U.S. Report Their Results

Blog entry written on: Transparency of Results Reporting for Depression Treatment Studies in A Cross-Sectional Study, (bmjebm-2020-111641.R2)

Authors: Karen B Schmaling, Hailey S Landon, Tiffany B Nguyen, Robert M Kaplan

Depression is a common condition that is treated by psychotherapies, medications, and procedures. A comprehensive picture of how well these treatments work — based on published and unpublished studies – is needed to guide research and practice.

We examined 725 depression treatment studies conducted in the U.S. between 2008 and 2019 and listed in the registration system. Only 57% of the studies posted any results. Half (52%) of studies that did not post results were required to do so by U.S. law.

Studies with results posted in were more likely to have publications from the study; to have specified hypotheses; and to have medication treatment conditions.

The purpose of mandatory study registration and outcome reporting is to increase transparent information sharing. We don’t know why results were not posted, but clearer standards and contingencies – such as trial registry reports being a precondition for journal publication – might increase reporting and lead to more complete information about depression treatment results.

Title: Transparency of results reporting for depression treatment studies in A cross-sectional study. doi:10.1136/bmjebm-111641 (bmjebm-2020-111641.R2).

Puzzle with a missing piece


Karen B. Schmaling

Image of Karen Schmaling

Washington State University
Conflict of interest disclosures: None.

Hailey S. Landon

Image of Hailey-S.-Landon

Washington State University
Conflict of interest disclosures: None.

Tiffany B. Nguyen

Image of Tiffany B. Nguyen

Washington State University
Conflict of interest disclosures: None.

Robert M. Kaplan

Image of Robert M. Kaplan

Stanford University
Conflict of interest disclosures: None.


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