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Professional News
Psychiatrists Create Web Site for Psychopharmacology Algorithms
Psychiatric News
Volume 37 Number 2 page 6-33
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Robert Patterson, M.D. (left), and David Osser, M.D. (right), chat with Joseph Kanter, president of the Kanter Family Foundation, shortly before receiving the foundation’s $1,000 journalism award for their Web site.

As a result, the general editor and director of technology for the site have received a $1,000 journalism award from the Kanter Family Foundation for "telling the important story that. . .clinicians are increasingly using scientific, evidence-based information to guide their medical-treatment decisions."

The site’s general editor is David Osser, M.D., an associate professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and president of the Massachusetts Psychiatric Society. The director of technology is Robert Patterson, M.D., a lecturer in psychiatry at Harvard Medical School.

Osser and Patterson entered their Web site into the Kanter journalism awards competition last June. As Osser wrote the Kanter Family Foundation at that time: "The Web site of our project appears to qualify for consideration on the basis of its. . .potential for stimulating greater public knowledge and understanding of the benefits of collecting and standardizing data on health outcomes so patients and clinicians can use scientific, evidence-based information to guide their treatment decisions."

Osser and Patterson received their award in October in Washington, D.C., during the "Health Legacy Partnership Conference on a National Health Outcomes Database," which was sponsored by the Kanter Family Foundation and the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, which is part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Both the foundation and the agency are interested in promoting scientifically based health-care decisions.

After receiving the award, Osser spoke about the international impact of the Psychopharmacology Algorithm Project Web site. He said that he and Patterson are "getting feedback from unbelievable corners of the world." Perhaps most impressive, he said, is China’s interest in the site (see box on page 6).

What the Web site really boils down to, Osser said, is that a "virtual consultant" asks a psychiatrist questions about a specific patient that the psychiatrist wants guidance on treating—say, one with depression without psychotic features. The consultant will then lead the psychiatrist to the most appropriate treatment for that patient, and evidence backing the consultant’s recommendation will also be provided.

The algorithms in the Psychopharmacology Algorithm Project are based on high-quality empirical research studies, but also on some uncontrolled studies, compilations of expert opinion, and practice guidelines derived from clinical experience (Psychiatric News, June 15, 2001).

The Web address of the Psychopharmacology Algorithm Project is www.mhc.com/Algorithms.

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Robert Patterson, M.D. (left), and David Osser, M.D. (right), chat with Joseph Kanter, president of the Kanter Family Foundation, shortly before receiving the foundation’s $1,000 journalism award for their Web site.

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