BACKGROUND: Major depressive disorder (MDD) is a highly prevalent mental disorder with large disease burden, high levels of relapse or persistence, and overall suboptimal outcomes of protocolized pharmacological and psychotherapeutic treatments. There is an urgent need to improve treatment effectiveness, possibly through systematic treatment personalization. In psychotherapeutic treatments this can be achieved by case conceptualization. To support this process, we developed the Therap-i module, which consists of personalized Experienced Sampling Methodology (ESM) and feedback. The Therap-i module is integrated into outpatient psychotherapeutic treatment as usual (TAU) for depression. The study aim is to investigate the efficacy of the Therap-i module in decreasing symptomatology in unresponsive or relapsing patients diagnosed with MDD. We hypothesize that the Therap-i module will contribute to TAU by i) decreasing depressive symptoms, and ii) improving general functioning, therapeutic working alliance, and illness perception. This paper provides details of the study rationale, aims, procedures, and a discussion on potential pitfalls and promises of the module.
METHODS: Patients diagnosed with MDD (n = 100) will enrol in a pragmatic two-armed randomized controlled trial. Randomization is stratified according to the patient's treatment resistance level assessed with the Dutch Method for quantification of Treatment Resistance in Depression (DM-TRD). All fill-out the Inventory of Depressive Symptomatology Self Report (IDS-SR), Outcome Questionnaire (OQ-45), Illness Perception Questionnaire Mental Health (IPQ-MH), and Work Alliance Inventory Self Report (WAI-SR). In the intervention arm, through close collaboration between patient, clinician, and researcher, a personalized ESM diary is developed based on the patient's case conceptualization. During the ESM monitoring period (8 weeks, 5 assessments/day), patients receive feedback three times, which is discussed among the abovementioned three parties. Both patients and clinicians will evaluate the Therap-i module.
RESULTS: Data collection is ongoing.
DISCUSSION: This is the first study in which personalized ESM and feedback is integrated in outpatient psychotherapeutic TAU for depression. The labour intensive procedure and methodological pitfalls are anticipated challenges and were taken into account when designing the study. When hypotheses are confirmed, the Therap-i module may advance treatment for depression by providing insights into personalized patterns driving or perpetuating depressive complaints.
TRIAL REGISTRATION: Trial NL7190 (NTR7381) , registered prospectively 03-08-2018.