Existing data yield insights into depression among understudied groups

Macarius Donneyong’s research involves digging into existing datasets to find golden nuggets of insight that can improve healthcare outcomes in real-world situations. An assistant professor of pharmacy practice and science in the College of Pharmacy, he recently received an NIH grant to study the treatment of depression among older adults with co-investigator Olivia Ifeoma Okereke, an associate professor at Harvard Medical School and associate psychiatrist at Brigham and Women’s Hospital.

Macarius Donneyong

Macarius Donneyong

“Drugs are approved based on evidence from randomized, controlled trials, but when they are released to market, they are used by a wider population, including people who are underrepresented in the trials,” explains Donneyong. “Most drug trials have an age cut-off of 60 or 65 years,” he says. “We don’t have enough information on the efficacy of these drugs in the general population, and in this age group.”

The dataset itself will be one of the innovations of the research, Donneyong says. He and Okereke will use the database from the Depression Endpoint Prevention in the VITamin D and OmegA-3 TriaL, or VITAL-DEP, a large ongoing study directed by Okereke. That study looks at the use of vitamin D and omega-3 fatty acids for the treatment of depression in older adults. Donneyong and Okereke will combine the VITAL-DEP information with Medicare Part D data, including prescription information. The dataset includes demographic information contributed by study participants.

“We are developing this database for the first time, but it will be useful for other studies as well,” says Donneyong. “It’s a challenge, but we have some experience with that. It’s definitely a good way to invest resources, because once created it will be very useful. The two databases complement each other.”

The study is not only diverse in terms of age, but also has greater minority representation; about 25 percent of the individuals represented in the VITAL-DEP database have minority racial or ethnic backgrounds that are often underrepresented in drug trials for a variety of reasons, including institutional stigma, a preference for non-pharmaceutical treatments, and distrust of the medical system.

The study will look at both the effectiveness of depression treatment and participants’ adherence to the treatment plan. “There’s some strong debate within the clinical community, some saying SSRIs don’t work, and others are saying of course they don’t work when people aren’t taking it properly,” said Donneyong.

Donneyong’s previous research has also involved poring over data from clinical practice to understand how people manage their health when they are not among a carefully selected population taking a drug in ideal conditions, but people attempting to manage their health and live their everyday lives as well.

Share this page
Suggested Articles
Kubatko, Jouline elected AAAS fellows

TDAI affiliates Laura Kubatko and Igor Jouline are among seven Ohio State University researchers who have been elected as Fellows of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, one...

TDAI summer camp for girls was a deep dive into data

By Chris Booker, Ohio State News July 25, 20187 Inside the recently renovated Pomerene Hall, freshly painted meeting rooms, shiny white boards and newly finished classrooms greeted students for an inaugural...

Mehmet Caner and big data

Economics professor Mehmet Caner arrived at Ohio State in August as part of a group of newly hired faculty affiliated with Translational Data Analytics @ Ohio State, formed to create...

Data Analytics Month @ Ohio State starts Oct. 26

Ohio State is hosting its first annual Data Analytics Month @ Ohio State. The campus-wide series of workshops, lectures, student challenges, and events focuses on data analytics and decision science, kicking off...

Parents shouldn't feel they have to be teachers, too

Give yourself a break with kids at home, expert says By Jeff Grabmeier, Ohio State News In the wake of COVID-19, children across the country were sent home from school,...