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Current Neuropharmacology



ISSN (Print): 1570-159X
ISSN (Online): 1875-6190

From Randomized Controlled Trials of Antidepressant Drugs to the Meta-Analytic Synthesis of Evidence: Methodological Aspects Lead to Discrepant Findings

Author(s): Konstantinos N. Fountoulakis, Roger S. McIntyre and Andre F. Carvalho

Volume 13 , Issue 5 , 2015

Page: [605 - 615] Pages: 11

DOI: 10.2174/1570159X13666150630174343

Price: $65


During the last decade, several meta-analytic studies employing different methodological approaches have had inconsistent conclusions regarding antidepressant efficacy. Herein, we aim to comment on methodological aspects that may have contributed to disparate findings. We initially discuss methodological inconsistencies and limitations related to the conduct of individual antidepressant randomized controlled trials (RCTs), including differences in allocated samples, limitations of psychometric scales, possible explanations for the heightened placebo response rates in antidepressant RCTs across the past two decades as well as the reporting of conflicts of interest. In the second part of this article, we briefly describe the various meta-analyses techniques (e.g., simple random effects meta-analysis and network meta-analysis) and the application of these methods to synthesize evidence related to antidepressant efficacy. Recently published antidepressant metaanalyses often provide discrepant results and similar results often lead to different interpretations. Finally, we propose strategies to improve methodology considering real-world clinical scenarios.

Keywords: Antidepressants, conflicts of interest, depression, meta-analysis, network meta-analysis, placebo, pooled analysis, randomized controlled trial, rating scales.

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