Indicators to facilitate the early identification of patients with major depressive disorder in need of highly specialized care: A concept mapping study

on behalf of the Decision Tool Unipolar Depression Consortium

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Background: Early identification of the subgroup of patients with major depressive disorder (MDD) in need of highly specialized care could enhance personalized intervention. This, in turn, may reduce the number of treatment steps needed to achieve and sustain an adequate treatment response. The aim of this study was to identify patient-related indicators that could facilitate the early identification of the subgroup of patients with MDD in need of highly specialized care. Methods: Initial patient indicators were derived from a systematic review. Subsequently, a structured conceptualization methodology known as concept mapping was employed to complement the initial list of indicators by clinical expertise and develop a consensus-based conceptual framework. Subject-matter experts were invited to participate in the subsequent steps (brainstorming, sorting, and rating) of the concept mapping process. A final concept map solution was generated using nonmetric multidimensional scaling and agglomerative hierarchical cluster analyses. Results: In total, 67 subject-matter experts participated in the concept mapping process. The final concept map revealed the following 10 major clusters of indicators: 1-depression severity, 2-onset and (treatment) course, 3-comorbid personality disorder, 4-comorbid substance use disorder, 5-other psychiatric comorbidity, 6-somatic comorbidity, 7-maladaptive coping, 8-childhood trauma, 9-social factors, and 10-psychosocial dysfunction. Conclusions: The study findings highlight the need for a comprehensive assessment of patient indicators in determining the need for highly specialized care, and suggest that the treatment allocation of patients with MDD to highly specialized mental healthcare settings should be guided by the assessment of clinical and nonclinical patient factors.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)346-352
Number of pages7
JournalDepression and anxiety
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2018


  • depressive disorder
  • disease management
  • major
  • precision medicine
  • tertiary healthcare

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