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      The link between depression and performance on the Symbol Digit Modalities Test: Mechanisms and clinical significance

      1 , 2

      Multiple Sclerosis Journal

      SAGE Publications

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          Validity of the Symbol Digit Modalities Test as a cognition performance outcome measure for multiple sclerosis

          Cognitive and motor performance measures are commonly employed in multiple sclerosis (MS) research, particularly when the purpose is to determine the efficacy of treatment. The increasing focus of new therapies on slowing progression or reversing neurological disability makes the utilization of sensitive, reproducible, and valid measures essential. Processing speed is a basic elemental cognitive function that likely influences downstream processes such as memory. The Multiple Sclerosis Outcome Assessments Consortium (MSOAC) includes representatives from advocacy organizations, Food and Drug Administration (FDA), European Medicines Agency (EMA), National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS), academic institutions, and industry partners along with persons living with MS. Among the MSOAC goals is acceptance and qualification by regulators of performance outcomes that are highly reliable and valid, practical, cost-effective, and meaningful to persons with MS. A critical step for these neuroperformance metrics is elucidation of clinically relevant benchmarks, well-defined degrees of disability, and gradients of change that are deemed clinically meaningful. This topical review provides an overview of research on one particular cognitive measure, the Symbol Digit Modalities Test (SDMT), recognized as being particularly sensitive to slowed processing of information that is commonly seen in MS. The research in MS clearly supports the reliability and validity of this test and recently has supported a responder definition of SDMT change approximating 4 points or 10% in magnitude.
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            Validation of the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale for use with multiple sclerosis patients.

            Detecting clinically significant symptoms of depression and anxiety in medically ill patients using self-report rating scales presents a challenge because of somatic confounders. The Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale (HADS) was developed with this in mind, but has never been validated for a multiple sclerosis population. Our objective was to validate the HADS for multiple sclerosis patients. Multiple sclerosis patients were interviewed for the presence of major depression (n = 180) and anxiety disorders (n = 140) with the Structured Clinical Interview for DSM-IV disorders. A receiver operating characteristic (ROC) analysis was undertaken to assess which HADS cut-off scores give the best yield with respect to diagnoses of major depression and all anxiety disorders defined by the Structured Clinical Interview for DSM-IV. A threshold score of 8 or greater on the HADS depression subscale provides a sensitivity of 90% and specificity of 87.3% (ROC area under the curve 0.938). The same cut-off score gives a sensitivity of 88.5% and a specificity of 80.7% on the anxiety subscale (ROC area under the curve 0.913), but for generalized anxiety disorder only. The study confirms the usefulness of the HADS as a marker of major depression and generalized anxiety disorder, but not other anxiety disorders, in multiple sclerosis patients.
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              Comparative outcomes for individual cognitive-behavior therapy, supportive-expressive group psychotherapy, and sertraline for the treatment of depression in multiple sclerosis.

              This study compared the efficacy of 3 16-week treatments for depression in 63 patients with multiple sclerosis (MS) and major depressive disorder (MDD): individual cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), supportive-expressive group therapy (SEG). and the antidepressant sertraline. Significant reductions were seen from pre- to posttreatment in all measures of depression. Intent-to-treat and completers analyses using the Beck Depression Inventory (BDI; A. T. Beck, C. H. Ward. M. Medelson. J. Mock, & J. Erbaugh, 1961) and MDD diagnosis found that CBT and sertraline were more effective than SEG at reducing depression. These results were largely supported by the BDI-18, which eliminates BDI items confounded with MS. However, the Hamilton Rating Scale for Depression (M. Hamilton, 1960) did not show consistent differences between treatments. Reasons for this inconsistency are discussed. These findings suggest that CBT or sertraline is more likely to be effective in treating MDD in MS compared with supportive group treatments.
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                Author and article information

                Journal
                Multiple Sclerosis Journal
                Mult Scler
                SAGE Publications
                1352-4585
                1477-0970
                January 15 2019
                January 2019
                April 12 2018
                January 2019
                : 25
                : 1
                : 118-121
                Affiliations
                [1 ]Department of Psychiatry, Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre, Toronto, ON, Canada
                [2 ]Department of Psychiatry, Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre, Toronto, ON, Canada; University of Toronto, Toronto, ON, Canada
                Article
                10.1177/1352458518770086
                © 2019

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