An early general practice trial of antidepressants: interview with the trialist, Tim Blashki

Bruce Arroll, Timothy G Blashki and Grant A Blashki
Med J Aust 2009; 191 (2): . || doi: 10.5694/j.1326-5377.2009.tb02710.x
Published online: 20 July 2009

Lessons from the past for today’s researchers in general practice

In January 1971, a randomised controlled trial of management of depression by general practitioners was published in the British Medical Journal by Tim Blashki (T G B) and his colleagues Robert Mowbray and Brian Davies (Box 1).1 Although there had been two earlier trials of antidepressants conducted in general practice (one British and one American), this was the first in the world to have extractable data in general-practice-only patients that could be used in a meta-analysis. It is therefore the earliest study included in this year’s published Cochrane Reviews that examines antidepressants versus placebo for depression in primary care; the review’s authors were Bruce Arroll (B A), Grant Blashki (G A B) and colleagues.2

  • 1 School of Population Health, Department of General Practice of Primary Health Care, University of Auckland, Auckland, New Zealand.
  • 2 East Melbourne, VIC.
  • 3 Nossal Institute for Global Health, University of Melbourne, Melbourne, VIC.


Competing interests:

The original trial1 was funded by Roche Products. Grant Blashki has received many free dinners from the trialist Tim Blashki.

  • 1. Blashki TG, Mowbray R, Davies B. Controlled trials of amitriptyline in general practice. BMJ 1971; 1: 133-138.
  • 2. Arroll B, Elley CR, Fishman T, et al. Antidepressants versus placebo for depression in primary care. Cochrane Database Syst Rev 2009. In press.
  • 3. Blashki G, Judd F, Piterman L. General practice psychiatry. Sydney: McGraw-Hill Medical, 2006.
  • 4. Shepherd M, Cooper B, Brown AC, Kalton GW. Psychiatric illness in general practice. London: Oxford University Press, 1966.
  • 5. Hamilton M. A rating scale for depression. J Neurol Neurosurg Psychiatry 1960; 23: 56-62.
  • 6. Taylor JA. A personality scale of manifest anxiety. J Abnorm Psychol 1953; 48: 285-290.
  • 7. Furukawa TA, McGuire H, Barbui C. Meta-analysis of effects and side effects of low dosage tricyclic antidepressants: systematic review. BMJ 2002; 325: 991-1000.


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