Sertraline Versus Placebo in Patients with Major Depressive Disorder Undergoing Hemodialysis: A Randomized, Controlled Feasibility Trial

Karin Friedli, Ayman Guirguis, Michael Almond, Clara Day, Joseph Chilcot, Maria Da Silva-Gane, Andrew Davenport, Naomi A Fineberg, Benjamin Spencer, David Wellsted, Ken Farrington

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32 Citations (Scopus)
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BACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVES: Depression is common in patients on hemodialysis, but data on the benefits and risks of antidepressants in this setting are limited. We conducted a multicenter, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial of sertraline over 6 months in patients on hemodialysis with depression to determine study feasibility, safety, and effectiveness.

DESIGN, SETTING, PARTICIPANTS, & MEASUREMENTS: Patients on hemodialysis at five United Kingdom renal centers completed the Beck Depression Inventory II. Those scoring ≥16 and not already on treatment for depression were invited to undergo diagnostic interview to confirm major depressive disorder. Eligible patients with major depressive disorder were randomized to receive the study medication-either sertraline or placebo. Outcomes included recruitment and dropout rates, change in the Montgomery-Asberg Depression Rating Scale and Beck Depression Inventory II, and qualitative information to guide design of a large-scale trial.

RESULTS: In total, 709 patients were screened and enrolled between April of 2013 and October of 2014; 231 (32.6%) had Beck Depression Inventory II scores ≥16, and 68 (29%) of these were already receiving treatment for depression. Sixty-three underwent diagnostic interview, 37 were diagnosed with major depressive disorder, and 30 were randomized; 21 completed the trial: eight of 15 on sertraline and 13 of 15 on placebo (P=0.05). Dropouts due to adverse and serious adverse events were greater in the sertraline group. All occurred in the first 3 months. Over 6 months, depression scores improved in both groups. Beck Depression Inventory II score fell from 29.1±8.4 to 17.3±12.4 (P<0.001), and Montgomery-Asberg Depression Rating Scale score fell from 24.5±4.1 to 10.3±5.8 (P<0.001). There were no differences between sertraline and placebo groups.

CONCLUSIONS: Although small, this is the largest randomized trial to date of antidepressant medication in patients on hemodialysis. Our results highlight recruitment issues. No benefit was observed, but trial size and the substantial dropout render consideration of benefit inconclusive. A definitive trial could use shorter follow-up and include depressed patients already taking antidepressants.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)280-286
Number of pages7
JournalClinical Journal of the American Society of Nephrology (CJASN)
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 7 Feb 2017


  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Antidepressive Agents
  • Depressive Disorder, Major
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Feasibility Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Medication Adherence
  • Middle Aged
  • Patient Dropouts
  • Psychiatric Status Rating Scales
  • Renal Dialysis
  • Renal Insufficiency, Chronic
  • Sertraline
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Journal Article
  • Multicenter Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial


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