Aims: Few studies have been conducted on the rationales for using interpretive guidelines for effect size, and most of the previous statistical power surveys have covered broad research domains. The present study aimed to estimate the statistical power and to obtain realistic target effect sizes of depression research in Japan.
Methods: We systematically reviewed 18 leading journals of psychiatry and psychology in Japan and identified 974 depression studies that were mentioned in 935 articles published between 1990 and 2006.
Results: In 392 studies, logistic regression analyses revealed that using clinical populations was independently associated with being a statistical power of <0.80 (odds ratio 5.9, 95% confidence interval 2.9–12.0) and of <0.50 (odds ratio 4.9, 95% confidence interval 2.3–10.5). Of the studies using clinical populations, 80% did not achieve a power of 0.80 or more, and 44% did not achieve a power of 0.50 or more to detect the medium population effect sizes. A predictive model for the proportion of variance explained was developed using a linear mixed-effects model. The model was then used to obtain realistic target effect sizes in defined study characteristics.
Conclusion: In the face of a real difference or correlation in population, many depression researchers are less likely to give a valid result than simply tossing a coin. It is important to educate depression researchers in order to enable them to conduct an a priori power analysis.