Open science: data from largest meta-analysis of antidepressants available

Authors of a major study in The Lancet have made their dataset freely available on Mendeley Data

antidepressant chart
Network meta-analysis of eligible comparisons for efficacy of antidepressants. The width of the lines is proportional to the number of trials comparing every pair of treatments. The size of every circle is proportional to the number of randomly assigned participants (i.e., sample size). (Source: Andrea Cipriani et al, The Lancet)

A study comparing data on 21 commonly used antidepressants from 522 randomized controlled trials with more than 100,000 participants has found that all antidepressants are more effective than placebo for short-term treatment of acute depression in adults. The network meta-analysis, published in The Lancet, is the most comprehensive assessment of antidepressants to date and enables comparison of data for all commonly used antidepressants.

There has been considerable debate about the effectiveness of antidepressants as a group in both the media and scientific literature, and this trial therefore represents a significant contribution to the clinical evidence base. By enabling comparison of efficacy among medications and with placebo, this analysis provides the best vailable evidence to guide treatment decisions for clinicians and patients.

The authors, an international collaboration with contributors from seven countries, have made their datasets available online using Mendeley Data, a free, secure online repository for research data. The full dataset, the results of 6 years’ work, comprises not just a comprehensive review of published studies but also large amount of unpublished data obtained by the authors through contacting study authors, regulatory agencies and pharmaceutical companies directly. By making the full dataset freely available, the authors are allowing others to replicate the analysis to further inform clinical practice.

One of the lead authors, Dr. Andrea Cipriani of the University of Oxford, told The Lancet:

As a group of authors, we strongly believe in open science. The data we have collected includes an unprecedented amount of previously unpublished data on antidepressants, which we sourced from pharmaceutical companies, original study authors, and regulatory agencies. By making the dataset available online, we encourage other researchers to replicate and improve on our work, in order to inform and ultimately improve patient outcomes.

The authors say further work is underway to look at individual-level data to better understand the effectiveness or acceptability of antidepressants in relation to age, sex, severity of symptoms, duration of illness and other individual-level characteristics.

The work of Dr. Cipriani’s team highlights the complementary roles The Lancet and Mendeley Data play to support open science, reproducibility, and publishing the best evidence to inform clinical decision-making.

Read the full research paper, published open access in The Lancet.

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