Review: What Outcomes Count? A Review of Outcomes Measured for Adolescent Depression Between 2007 and 2017


Objective: Measurement of treatment outcomes in childhood depression has traditionally focused on assessing symptoms from the clinician’s perspective, without exploring other outcome domains or considering young people’s perspectives. This systematic review explored the extent to which multidimensional and multi-informant outcome measurements have been used in clinical research for adolescent depression in the past decade and how patterns have evolved over time.

Method: Embase, Medline, and PsycINFO were searched, and studies that were published from 2007 through 2017 and assessed the effectiveness of treatments or service provision for adolescent depression were included. Of 7,483 studies screened, 95 met the inclusion criteria and were included for data extraction and analysis.

Results: Ten outcomes domains were identified, 2 of which were assessed on average using 4 outcome measures. Most studies (94%) measured symptoms, followed by functioning (52%). Other domains such as personal growth, relationships, quality of life, and service satisfaction were each considered by less than 1 in 10 studies. Youth self-report was considered by 54% but tended to focus on secondary outcomes. Multidimensional and multi-informant measurements were more frequent in studies published since 2015.

Conclusion: Recent clinical research continues to prioritize symptoms measurement based on clinician report and has not yet fully embraced multidimensional and multi-informant approaches. In the context of significant policy shifts toward patient-centered and evidence-based care, measuring what matters most to patients has become a priority, but this is not yet widely reflected in clinical research.

Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 58(1), 61-71