Comparing sensitivity to change using the 6-item versus the 17-item Hamilton depression rating scale in the GUIDED randomized controlled trial

Boadie W. Dunlop, Sagar V. Parikh, Anthony J. Rothschild, Michael E. Thase, Charles Debattista, Charles R. Conway, Brent P. Forester, Francis M. Mondimore, Richard C. Shelton, Matthew Macaluso, Jennifer Logan, Paul Traxler, James Li, Holly Johnson, John F. Greden

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Previous research suggests that the 17-item Hamilton Depression Rating Scale (HAM-D17) is less sensitive in detecting differences between active treatment and placebo for major depressive disorder (MDD) than is the HAM-D6 scale, which focuses on six core depression symptoms. Whether HAM-D6 shows greater sensitivity when comparing two active MDD treatment arms is unknown. Methods: This post hoc analysis used data from the intent-to-treat (ITT) cohort (N = 1541) of the Genomics Used to Improve DEpression Decisions (GUIDED) trial, a rater- A nd patient-blinded randomized controlled trial. GUIDED compared combinatorial pharmacogenomics-guided care with treatment as usual (TAU) in patients with MDD. Percent of symptom improvement, response rate and remission rate from baseline to week 8 were evaluated using both scales. Analyses were performed for the full cohort and for the subset of patients who at baseline were taking medications predicted by the test to have moderate or significant gene-drug interactions. A Mokken scale analysis was conducted to compare the homogeneity of HAM-D17 with that of HAM-D6. Results: At week 8, the guided-care arm demonstrated statistically significant benefit over TAU when the HAM-D6 (Δ = 4.4%, p = 0.023) was used as the continuous measure of symptom improvement, but not when using the HAM-D17 (Δ = 3.2%, p = 0.069). Response rates increased significantly for guided-care compared with TAU when evaluated using both HAM-D6 (Δ = 7.0%, p = 0.004) and HAM-D17 (Δ = 6.3%, p = 0.007). Remission rates also were significantly greater for guided-care versus TAU using both measures (HAM-D6 Δ = 4.6%, p = 0.031; HAM-D17 Δ = 5.5%, p = 0.005). Patients in the guided-care arm who at baseline were taking medications predicted to have gene-drug interactions showed further increased benefit over TAU at week 8 for symptom improvement (Δ = 7.3%, p = 0.004) response (Δ = 10.0%, p = 0.001) and remission (Δ = 7.9%, p = 0.005) using HAM-D6. All outcomes showed continued improvement through week 24. Mokken scale analysis demonstrated the homogeneity and unidimensionality of HAM-D6, but not of HAM-D17, across treatment arms. Conclusions: The HAM-D6 scale identified a statistically significant difference in symptom improvement between combinatorial pharmacogenomics-guided care and TAU, whereas the HAM-D17 did not. The demonstrated utility of pharmacogenomics-guided treatment over TAU as detected by the HAM-D6 highlights its value for future biomarker-guided trials comparing active treatment arms.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number420
JournalBMC psychiatry
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 27 2019


  • Antidepressant
  • Assessment
  • Biomarker
  • Clinical trial
  • Clinical utility
  • Comparative effectiveness
  • Decision-making
  • Depression
  • Genetics
  • Pharmacogenomics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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