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A pilot randomised controlled trial of a brief cognitive behavioural group intervention to reduce recurrence rates in late life depression

Author(s): Wilkinson P, Alder N, Juszczak E, Matthews H, Merritt C, et al.



To standardise the delivery of a brief group cognitive behaviour therapy intervention (CBT-G). To apply the intervention in a research setting and to estimate its effect on recurrence rates in recently depressed older adults, in preparation for a definitive study.


A CBT-G therapy manual was produced and the Cognitive Therapy Rating Scale (CTS-R) modified to assess therapy delivery. Forty-five adults aged 60 and over who had met ICD-10 criteria for major depression in the previous year and were still taking antidepressant medication were randomly allocated to CBT-G/antidepressant combination or antidepressant alone. Depression severity was measured at baseline, randomisation and 6 and 12 months after start of CBT-G using the Montgomery Åsberg Rating Scale for Depression (MADRS).

Results and conclusion

One-year recurrence rates on the MADRS were encouragingly lower in participants receiving CBT-G [5/18 (27.8%)] compared with controls [8/18 (44.4%)] although this did not achieve statistical significance (adjusted RR 0.70 [95% CI 0.26–1.94]). In contrast, overall scores on the secondary outcome measure, the Beck Depression Inventory, increased in participants receiving CBT-G. The CBT-G manual was successfully implemented and therapy delivery achieved an overall satisfactory level of competence. We believe that evaluation of this promising intervention in a full-scale trial is warranted.

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