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Risk of suicide-related behaviors is elevated among military personnel transitioning to civilian life. An earlier report showed that high-risk U.S. Army soldiers could be identified shortly before this transition with a machine learning model that included predictors from administrative systems, self-report surveys, and geospatial data. Based on this result, a Veterans Affairs and Army initiative was launched to evaluate a suicide-prevention intervention for high-risk transitioning soldiers. To make targeting practical, though, a streamlined model and risk calculator were needed that used only a short series of self-report survey questions.
We revised the original model in a sample of n = 8335 observations from the Study to Assess Risk and Resilience in Servicemembers-Longitudinal Study (STARRS-LS) who participated in one of three Army STARRS 2011–2014 baseline surveys while in service and in one or more subsequent panel surveys (LS1: 2016–2018, LS2: 2018–2019) after leaving service. We trained ensemble machine learning models with constrained numbers of item-level survey predictors in a 70% training sample. The outcome was self-reported post-transition suicide attempts (SA). The models were validated in the 30% test sample.
Twelve-month post-transition SA prevalence was 1.0% (s.e. = 0.1). The best constrained model, with only 17 predictors, had a test sample ROC-AUC of 0.85 (s.e. = 0.03). The 10–30% of respondents with the highest predicted risk included 44.9–92.5% of 12-month SAs.
An accurate SA risk calculator based on a short self-report survey can target transitioning soldiers shortly before leaving service for intervention to prevent post-transition SA.
Only a limited number of patients with major depressive disorder (MDD) respond to a first course of antidepressant medication (ADM). We investigated the feasibility of creating a baseline model to determine which of these would be among patients beginning ADM treatment in the US Veterans Health Administration (VHA).
A 2018–2020 national sample of n = 660 VHA patients receiving ADM treatment for MDD completed an extensive baseline self-report assessment near the beginning of treatment and a 3-month self-report follow-up assessment. Using baseline self-report data along with administrative and geospatial data, an ensemble machine learning method was used to develop a model for 3-month treatment response defined by the Quick Inventory of Depression Symptomatology Self-Report and a modified Sheehan Disability Scale. The model was developed in a 70% training sample and tested in the remaining 30% test sample.
In total, 35.7% of patients responded to treatment. The prediction model had an area under the ROC curve (s.e.) of 0.66 (0.04) in the test sample. A strong gradient in probability (s.e.) of treatment response was found across three subsamples of the test sample using training sample thresholds for high [45.6% (5.5)], intermediate [34.5% (7.6)], and low [11.1% (4.9)] probabilities of response. Baseline symptom severity, comorbidity, treatment characteristics (expectations, history, and aspects of current treatment), and protective/resilience factors were the most important predictors.
Although these results are promising, parallel models to predict response to alternative treatments based on data collected before initiating treatment would be needed for such models to help guide treatment selection.
Fewer than half of patients with major depressive disorder (MDD) respond to psychotherapy. Pre-emptively informing patients of their likelihood of responding could be useful as part of a patient-centered treatment decision-support plan.
This prospective observational study examined a national sample of 807 patients beginning psychotherapy for MDD at the Veterans Health Administration. Patients completed a self-report survey at baseline and 3-months follow-up (data collected 2018–2020). We developed a machine learning (ML) model to predict psychotherapy response at 3 months using baseline survey, administrative, and geospatial variables in a 70% training sample. Model performance was then evaluated in the 30% test sample.
32.0% of patients responded to treatment after 3 months. The best ML model had an AUC (SE) of 0.652 (0.038) in the test sample. Among the one-third of patients ranked by the model as most likely to respond, 50.0% in the test sample responded to psychotherapy. In comparison, among the remaining two-thirds of patients, <25% responded to psychotherapy. The model selected 43 predictors, of which nearly all were self-report variables.
Patients with MDD could pre-emptively be informed of their likelihood of responding to psychotherapy using a prediction tool based on self-report data. This tool could meaningfully help patients and providers in shared decision-making, although parallel information about the likelihood of responding to alternative treatments would be needed to inform decision-making across multiple treatments.
There is growing interest in using composite individualized treatment rules (ITRs) to guide depression treatment selection, but best approaches for doing this are not widely known. We develop an ITR for depression remission based on secondary analysis of a recently published trial for second-line antidepression medication selection using a cutting-edge ensemble machine learning method.
Data come from the SUN(^_^)D trial, an open-label, assessor blinded pragmatic trial of previously-untreated patients with major depressive disorder from 48 clinics in Japan. Initial clinic-level randomization assigned patients to 50 or 100 mg/day sertraline. We focus on the 1549 patients who failed to remit within 3 weeks and were then rerandomized at the individual-level to continuation with sertraline, switching to mirtazapine, or combining mirtazapine with sertraline. The outcome was remission 9 weeks post-baseline. Predictors included socio-demographics, clinical characteristics, baseline symptoms, changes in symptoms between baseline and week 3, and week 3 side effects.
Optimized treatment was associated with significantly increased cross-validated week 9 remission rates in both samples [5.3% (2.4%), p = 0.016 50 mg/day sample; 5.1% (2.7%), p = 0.031 100 mg/day sample] compared to randomization (30.1–30.8%). Optimization was also associated with significantly increased remission in both samples compared to continuation [24.7% in both: 11.2% (3.8%), p = 0.002 50 mg/day sample; 11.7% (3.9%), p = 0.001 100 mg/day sample]. Non-significant gains were found for optimization compared to switching or combining.
An ITR can be developed to improve second-line antidepressant selection, but replication in a larger study with more comprehensive baseline predictors might produce stronger and more stable results.
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