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Digital tools for the assessment of pharmacological treatment for depressive disorder: State of the art

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

Evelien Van Assche, J. Antoni Ramos-Quiroga, Carmine M. Pariante, Luca Sforzini, Allan H. Young, Yanina Flossbach, Stefan M. Gold, Witte J.G. Hoogendijk, Bernhard T. Baune, Eduard Maron

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)100-116
Number of pages17
JournalEuropean Neuropsychopharmacology
PublishedJul 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information: The presented work is part of the ECNP Network Pharmacogenomics and Transcriptomics which is supported by the European College of Neuropsychopharmacology (ECNP). Publisher Copyright: © 2022

King's Authors


Depression is an invalidating disorder, marked by phenotypic heterogeneity. Clinical assessments for treatment adjustments and data-collection for pharmacological research often rely on subjective representations of functioning. Better phenotyping through digital applications may add unseen information and facilitate disentangling the clinical characteristics and impact of depression and its pharmacological treatment in everyday life. Researchers, physicians, and patients benefit from well-understood digital phenotyping approaches to assess the treatment efficacy and side-effects. This review discusses the current possibilities and pitfalls of wearables and technology for the assessment of the pharmacological treatment of depression. Their applications in the whole spectrum of treatment for depression, including diagnosis, treatment of an episode, and monitoring of relapse risk and prevention are discussed. Multiple aspects are to be considered, including concerns that come with collecting sensitive data and health recordings. Also, privacy and trust are addressed. Available applications range from questionnaire-like apps to objective assessment of behavioural patterns and promises in handling suicidality. Nonetheless, interpretation and integration of this high-resolution information with other phenotyping levels, remains challenging. This review provides a state-of-the-art description of wearables and technology in digital phenotyping for monitoring pharmacological treatment in depression, focusing on the challenges and opportunities of its application in clinical trials and research.

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