A systematic review and meta-analysis of group psychotherapy for sub-clinical depression in older adults

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Abstract

Objectives:

Studies investigating the effectiveness of group psychotherapy intervention in sub-threshold depression have shown varying results with differing effect sizes. A systematic review of randomised controlled trials of group psychotherapy in older adults with sub-threshold depression was conducted to present the best available evidence in relation to its effect on depressive symptomatology and the prevention of major depression.

Methods:

Systematic search of electronic databases and random effects model for meta-analysis.

Results:

Four clinical trials met the full inclusion criteria. Group cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) is an effective intervention for reducing depressive symptoms in older adults with sub-threshold depression in comparison to waiting list. Computerised CBT is at least as effective as group CBT in reducing depressive symptoms. The benefit of group CBT at follow-up is not maintained. Group psychotherapy does not appear to reduce the risk of depressive disorder during follow-up. There are fewer drop outs from group psychotherapy when compared with control conditions. The methodological quality of the studies and their reporting are sub-optimal.

Conclusions:

Group psychological interventions in older adults with sub-threshold depression have a significant effect on depressive symptomatology, which is not maintained at follow-up. Group psychotherapy does not appear to reduce the incidence of major depressive disorders. Copyright © 2012 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

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