Treatment guideline panel for depression is appointed

Group of 11 scientists and clinicians will lead development of APA guideline

By Howard Kurtzman, PhD, and Lynn Bufka, PhD

April 12, 2012—Eleven scientists and clinicians have been appointed to serve on the American Psychological Association’s Clinical Treatment Guideline Development Panel for Depressive Disorders Across the Lifespan. This is the first development panel to be established within APA’s treatment guideline development initiative.

The members of the panel, which will play the lead role in drafting the guideline for treatment of depression, are:

Jacques Barber, PhD
Adelphi University

Alfiee Breland-Noble, PhD  
Georgetown University

Pim Cuijpers, PhD  
VU University Amsterdam 

Leslie Samuel Greenberg, PhD
York University

Elizabeth Lin, MD, MPH   
University of Washington

John McQuaid, PhD — chair
University of California, San Francisco

Laura Mufson, PhD  
Columbia University

Arthur Nezu, PhD
Drexel University

Charles F. Reynolds III, MD  
University of Pittsburgh

Rhonda Robinson-Beale, MD  
United Behavioral Health

Forrest Scogin, PhD  
University of Alabama

Background information about each member can be found on the treatment guidelines website.

Following a call for nominations issued in September 2011, 51 nominations were submitted to the steering committee that is guiding the APA initiative. The steering committee reviewed all nominations and recommended these names to the APA Board of Directors, which approved them in February. In accord with current standards for guideline development, the steering committee designed the panel to include a broad range of expertise, experience, and perspectives, from psychology as well as other fields that address depression.   

All panel members have submitted information regarding potential conflicts of interest (including financial, organizational and personal conflicts, as well as intellectual commitments and biases). After reviewing this information and other available materials, APA staff and the steering committee have determined that no members have any conflicts that would preclude them from serving on the panel. Conflicts of interest will be reviewed again at least annually as the panel members proceed with their work.

It is expected that development of a guideline for depressive disorders will take about 2 years. The guideline development panel, along with the steering committee, will determine the scope of the guideline and formulate the precise questions for the systematic review of the literature that will serve as the basis of the guideline.  

The systematic review will be conducted by an outside organization to be selected by the steering committee and senior APA management. The steering committee has determined that a new systematic review is needed because no existing reviews on depression treatment are sufficiently broad or current. The committee has also begun to examine the range of organizations that could carry out this work, including the evidence-based practice centers that perform systematic reviews for the U.S. federal government.

Funding of the guideline development panel’s work and of the systematic review will be provided by APA. The panel will also receive staff support from APA.

The panel will both meet in person and hold regular conference calls. It will begin its work by becoming fully acquainted with current standards and procedures for guideline development, such as those formulated in recent reports of the Institute of Medicine (for example, Finding What Works in Health Care: Standards for Systematic Reviews and Clinical Practice Guidelines We Can Trust) and within organizations such as Guidelines International Network (of which APA is a member). As its work develops, the panel may also call upon consultants with expertise in particular research or clinical areas for advice on specific issues.

One early task for the panel will be to design a mechanism for drawing upon the perspectives of patients and consumers. The steering committee decided that appointing one or two members to the panel to represent the broad range of patients/consumers (including families) would be insufficient. Options that the panel might consider include creating a board of patient/consumer consultants or putting out periodic calls for input from patient/consumer communities.

Two other guideline development panels will be established this year: one for obesity and another for post-traumatic stress disorder.   

Additional information about APA’s treatment guideline development initiative can be found on the project website. Questions and comments are invited and may be sent to APA’s Clinical Treatment Guidelines email.

See also: 

Howard Kurtzman, PhD, is deputy executive director for science (Science Directorate) and Lynn Bufka, PhD, is assistant executive director for practice research and policy (Practice Directorate) at the American Psychological Association. This article is appearing in both Psychological Science Agenda and Practice Update.