Effectiveness as an outcome measure for treatment trials in psychiatry.
Fleischhacker WW., Goodwin GM.
There is at present some confusion about the relative value of clinical trials performed to investigate efficacy vs. those designed to investigate effectiveness. This is particularly challenging when studies performed as experiments for regulators by companies are used to shape and inform clinical practice, especially if studies conducted under more real life conditions fail to support predicted benefits. We review the field in relation to the new antipsychotics, in particular. Other indications, including mood disorders, which are also briefly touched upon, have so far received less definitive attention, but are likely to encounter the same difficulties. We conclude that, where the results of efficacy trials are positive and an effectiveness trial is negative, one should not necessarily prefer the effectiveness trial - it may simply have failed. Where efficacy trials and effectiveness trials point to similar conclusions, then the findings are mutually supportive.