Randomized clinical trials (RCTs) not only are the gold standard for evaluating the efficacy and effectiveness of psychiatric treatments but also can be valuable in revealing moderators and mediators of therapeutic change. Conceptually, moderators identify on whom and under what circumstances treatments have different effects. Mediators identify why and how treatments have effects. We describe an analytic framework to identify and distinguish between moderators and mediators in RCTs when outcomes are measured dimensionally. Rapid progress in identifying the most effective treatments and understanding on whom treatments work and do not work and why treatments work or do not work depends on efforts to identify moderators and mediators of treatment outcome. We recommend that RCTs routinely include and report such analyses.
Register and get free email Table of Contents alerts, saved searches, PowerPoint downloads, CME quizzes, and more
Subscribe for full-text access to content from 1998 forward and a host of useful features
Activate your current subscription (AMA members and current subscribers)
Purchase Online Access to this article for 24 hours
Definitions of terms used in the linear model, with treatment coded +½ for those in the treatment group(T) and −½ for those in the control or comparison group (C), with the moderator or mediator (M) centered at the mean of M in T (MT), the mean of M in C (MC), and the midpoint of these two(M0).
A special case in which there is no main effect of treatment, no main effect of moderator or mediator (M), and no overall effect of treatment, but in which treatment may change not only the level but also the action of M on the outcome, a mediating effect. T indicates treatment group; C, control or comparison group; MC, the mean of M in C; MT, the mean of M in T; and M0, the midpoint of these two.
Thank you for submitting a comment on this article. It will be reviewed by JAMA Psychiatry editors. You will be notified when your comment has been published. Comments should not exceed 500 words of text and 10 references.
Do not submit personal medical questions or information that could identify a specific patient, questions about a particular case, or general inquiries to an author. Only content that has not been published, posted, or submitted elsewhere should be submitted. By submitting this Comment, you and any coauthors transfer copyright to the journal if your Comment is posted.
* = Required Field
Disclosure of Any Conflicts of Interest*
Indicate all relevant conflicts of interest of each author below, including all relevant financial interests, activities, and relationships within the past 3 years including, but not limited to, employment, affiliation, grants or funding, consultancies, honoraria or payment, speakers’ bureaus, stock ownership or options, expert testimony, royalties, donation of medical equipment, or patents planned, pending, or issued. If all authors have none, check "No potential conflicts or relevant financial interests" in the box below. Please also indicate any funding received in support of this work. The information will be posted with your response.
Some tools below are only available to our subscribers or users with an online account.
Download citation file:
Web of Science® Times Cited: 722
Customize your page view by dragging & repositioning the boxes below.
More Listings atJAMACareerCenter.com >
Care at the Close of Life EDUCATION GUIDESCaring for Bereaved Patients
All results at
and access these and other features:
Enter your username and email address. We'll send you a link to reset your password.
Enter your username and email address. We'll send instructions on how to reset your password to the email address we have on record.
Athens and Shibboleth are access management services that provide single sign-on to protected resources. They replace the multiple user names and passwords necessary to access subscription-based content with a single user name and password that can be entered once per session. It operates independently of a user's location or IP address. If your institution uses Athens or Shibboleth authentication, please contact your site administrator to receive your user name and password.