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Research waste occurs when randomised controlled trial (RCT) outcomes are heterogeneous or overlook domains that matter to patients (eg, relating to symptoms or functions). In this systematic review, we reviewed the outcome measures used in 450 RCTs of adult unipolar and bipolar depression registered between 2018 and 2022 and identified 388 different measures. 40% of the RCTs used the same measure (Hamilton Depression Rating Scale [HAMD]). Patients and clinicians matched each item within the 25 most frequently used measures with 80 previously identified domains of depression that matter to patients. Seven (9%) domains were not covered by the 25 most frequently used outcome measures (eg, mental pain and irritability). The HAMD covered a maximum of 47 (59%) of the 80 domains that matter to patients. An interim solution to facilitate evidence synthesis before a core outcome set is developed would be to use the most common measures and choose complementary scales to optimise domain coverage. TRANSLATIONS: For the French and Dutch translations of the abstract see Supplementary Materials section.

Original publication




Journal article


Lancet Psychiatry

Publication Date





285 - 294


Adult, Humans, Depression, Bipolar Disorder, Outcome Assessment, Health Care, Patients