Major Depressive Disorder in Patients With Doctoral Degrees: Patient-reported Depressive Symptom Severity, Functioning, and Quality of Life Before and After Initial Treatment in the STAR*D Study

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Abstract

Objective:

This study examined patients with medical or doctoral degrees diagnosed with major depressive disorder (MDD) by analyzing patient-reported depressive symptom severity, functioning, and quality of life (QOL) before and after treatment of MDD.

Methods:

Analyses were conducted in a sample of 2280 adult outpatient participants with MDD from the Sequenced Treatment Alternatives to Relieve Depression (STAR*D) study with complete entry and exit scores for the level 1 (citalopram monotherapy) trial. The sample contained 62 participants who had completed medical or doctoral degrees (DOCS) and 2218 participants without medical or doctoral degrees (non-DOCS). QOL was assessed with the Quality of Life Enjoyment and Satisfaction Questionnaire, functioning was assessed with the Work and Social Adjustment Scale, and depressive symptom severity was assessed with the Quick Inventory of Depressive Symptomatology-Self Report.

Results:

Both groups (DOCS and non-DOCS) had significant improvement in depressive symptom severity, functioning, and QOL following treatment (with equivalent improvements in mean change values). However, the DOCS group demonstrated larger effect sizes in symptom reduction for depression, increase in functioning, and improvement in QOL compared with the non-DOCS group. Participants who achieved remission from MDD at exit showed significantly greater improvement than nonremitters on functioning and QOL.

Conclusions:

Findings from this study indicated that, following citalopram monotherapy, the participants in the DOCS group achieved greater reductions in depressive symptom severity (based on effect sizes) than the participants in the non-DOCS group. For both treatment groups, the findings also showed the positive effect that remission status from MDD can have on QOL and functioning.

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