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BACKGROUND: Difficult-to-treat depression (DTD) presents a substantial health care challenge, with around one-third of people diagnosed with a depressive episode in the UK finding that their symptoms persist following treatment. This study aimed to identify priority research questions (RQs) that could inform the development of new and improved treatments, interventions, and support for people with DTD. METHODS: Using an adapted Child Health and Nutrition Research Initiative (CHNRI) method, this national prioritisation exercise engaged 60 leading researchers and health care professionals in the UK, as well as 25 wider stakeholders with relevant lived experience to produce a ranked list of priority RQs in DTD. The final list of 99 distinct RQs was independently scored by 42 individuals against a list of five criteria: answerability, effectiveness, impact on health, deliverability, and equity. RESULTS: Highly ranked RQs covered a range of novel and existing treatments. The three highest scoring RQs included evaluation of psychological and pharmacological therapies (eg, behavioural activation, and augmentation therapies), as well as social interventions to reduce loneliness or increase support for people with DTD. CONCLUSIONS: This exercise identified and prioritised 99 RQs that could inform future research and funding decisions over the next five years. The results of this research could improve treatment and support for people affected by DTD. It also serves as an example of ways in which the CHNRI method can be adapted in a collaborative manner to provide a more active role for patients, carers, and health care professionals.

Original publication




Journal article


J Glob Health

Publication Date





Child, Humans, Research Design, United Kingdom