Psycholoog en cliënt met elkaar in gesprek
Psycholoog en cliënt met elkaar in gesprek

Combining 100 treatment studies: a step closer towards personalised depression treatment?

Choosing the right treatment for a patient with depression is a challenging task for healthcare professionals. While multiple therapies have comparable effectiveness on average, individual responses to treatment differ significantly, and it is unclear what the optimal treatment for a given person is. It's something that Ellen Driessen, Psychologist and Researcher at Radboud University, is dedicated to change.

In a recent article in the New York Times Magazine, Driessen highlights the challenge of providing personalised treatment recommendations due to the current state of research. She candidly admits that she resorts to saying: "I don't know which of these treatments will be most effective for you," when her patients seek guidance. As a clinician, this answer is deeply unsatisfying to her.  Therefore, she's dedicated to providing a more targeted pairing of therapies with patients, ultimately enhancing the effectiveness of treatment.  

How will she do this? Driessen and her colleagues have embarked on an ambitious mission to bring together over 100 previous depression treatment studies of researchers worldwide, seeking crucial information about the patients' characteristics. "Current research relies on smaller patient groups, sufficient for overall therapy evaluation. But, to identify optimal treatments for individuals, much larger sample sizes are needed. That's why we're combining all these treatment studies, seeking a larger sample", Driessen says.  

This extensive project will likely span a decade as they aim to discover the connections between treatment approaches and patient profiles.  

By acknowledging the uniqueness of each person in the selection of treatment, Driessen aims to contribute towards providing improved care for individuals who are experiencing depression.  Read the complete article in New York Times Magazine titled "Does Therapy Really Work? Let's Unpack That" here. 

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