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September 1991

Conceptualization and Rationale for Consensus Definitions of Terms in Major Depressive Disorder: Remission, Recovery, Relapse, and Recurrence

Author Affiliations

From the Department of Psychiatry, University of Pittsburgh (Pa) School of Medicine, Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic (Drs Frank and Kupfer); Division of Clinical Research, National Institute of Mental Health, Rockville, Md (Dr Prien); Department of Psychiatry and Human Behavior, Brown University, Butler Hospital, Providence, RI (Drs Keller and Lavori); Department of Psychiatry, University of Texas Health Science Center, Dallas (Drs Jarrett and Rush); and Division of Clinical-Genetic Epidemiology, College of Physicians and Surgeons, Columbia Univesity, New York, NY (Dr Weissman).

Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1991;48(9):851-855. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.1991.01810330075011

• In 1988, the MacArthur Foundation Research Network on the Psychobiology of Depression convened a task force to examine the ways in which change points in the course of depressive illness had been described and the extent to which inconsistency in these descriptions might be impeding research on this disorder. We found considerable inconsistency across and even within research reports and concluded that research on depressive illness would be well served by greater consistency in the definition change points in the course of illness. We propose an internally consistent, empirically defined conceptual scheme for the terms remission, recovery, relapse, and recurrence. In addition, we propose tentative operational criteria for each term. Finally, we discuss ways to assess the usefulness of such operational criteria through reanalysis of existing data and the design and conduct of new experiments.

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