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April 1996

The Role of Psychotherapy in the Treatment of Depression: Review of Two Practice Guidelines

Author Affiliations

Washington, DC
Department of Psychiatry St Mary's Hospital Rochester, NY 14611 Deborah A. Zarin, MD Harold Alan Pincus, MD Washington, DC

Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1996;53(4):291-293. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.1996.01830040021004

PERSONS and colleagues1 are to be commended for their detailed examination of two major practice guidelines on the care of patients with major depressive disorder. As they point out, practice guidelines have great potential, with important clinical, professional, and legal implications. In their article, they make a number of valuable and helpful suggestions. For example, their suggestion that practice guidelines undergo periodic revision is in agreement with the American Medical Association guide2 and is consistent with the American Psychiatric Association (APA) practice guideline project3 (which calls for revisions at 3- to 5-year intervals). However, in addition to such valuable suggestions, Persons et al also make some factual errors, underplay the limitations in the research literature (and thus ignore the role of clinical consensus in developing guidelines), and, most important, appear not to understand that the main purpose of practice guidelines is to assist clinicians (in this case

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