Slope vs. Levels2023-12-11

You can only control the slope of your success, not your initial position.

James Clear

Assessing and affecting change of levels of biological, social, and psychological measures is the way forward for (mental) healthcare and well-being. Levels have to be normed in a population based on what is functional, adaptive, and permits thriving, vs. what is dysfunctional, maladaptive, and requires clinical care.

Cross-sectional measures are a good start, but longitudinal measures are even more informative. The slope of change of measures within a person is much more relevant to that person’s well-being than comparisons of levels with other persons. A simple example is prostate specific antigen (PSA), where slope of change from year to year is more informative than levels.

The blood biomarkers my teams have developed for mental health have good predictive abilities when measuring levels, but significantly better predictive ability when measuring slope of change. That is why we suggest it is worth tracking biological markers, as well as social and psychological measures through surveys and digital tools, in a repeated and routine way, for treatment and ultimately for early intervention and preventive purposes.

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