Evaluation of the Effects of rTMS on Self-Reported Quality of Life and Disability in Treatment-Resistant Depression: A THREE-D Study


Journal of Affective Disorders. 268:127-133, 2020 05 01.

Giacobbe P; Mithani K; Meng Y; Vila-Rodriguez F; Daskalakis ZJ; Downar J; Blumberger DM

Although the antidepressant efficacy of rTMS is well documented, patient reported outcomes (PROs) with rTMS are poorly characterized. The aim of the current study is to assess short and long-term changes in self-reported quality of life and disability following a 6-week course of rTMS.

We performed a secondary analysis of data from the multi-centre THREE-D trial of 10 Hz high-frequency (HF) rTMS (n = 192) vs. intermittent theta-burst stimulation (iTBS) (n = 193) of the left dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC). We assessed changes in the Quality of Life Enjoyment and Satisfaction Questionnaire and Sheehan Disability Scale pre-treatment, at 1-week post-rTMS treatment (Acute Follow-up), and at 12-weeks post-treatment (Long-Term Follow-Up).

PROs significantly improved with rTMS. There were no differences in PROs between iTBS and HF left DLPFC rTMS at either the Acute or Long-Term Follow-Up. The magnitude of the change in effect sizes seen for the PROs were significantly greater in those who achieved greater resolution their depressive symptoms, with remitters demonstrating very large effect size improvements in PROs compared to small-to-medium effect sizes in non-remitters.

This study is the largest in the literature exploring at the effect of rTMS on PROs. rTMS yielded acute and sustained improvements in PROs. The improvements in PROs were strongly associated with the degree of resolution of depressive symptoms. The magnitude of the change in remitters was comparable to those reported with ECT. The goal of a course of rTMS should be for full remission of depressive symptoms in order to achieve optimal functional outcomes.