Early Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Depression After Cardiac Surgery

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Abstract

Background:

Despite high rates of postcardiac surgery depression, studies of depression treatment in this population have been limited.

Objective:

The aim of this study was to evaluate early cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) in a home environment in patients recovering from cardiac surgery.

Methods:

From July 2006 through October 2009, we conducted a randomized controlled trial and enrolled 808 patients who were screened for depressive symptoms using the Beck Depression Inventory (BDI) in the hospital and 1 month later. Patients were interviewed using the Structured Clinical Interview for DSM-IV; those who met criteria for clinical depression (n = 81) were randomized to CBT (n = 45) or usual care (UC; n = 36). After completion of the UC period, 25 individuals were offered later CBT (UC + CBT).

Results:

Main outcomes (depressive symptoms [BDI] and clinical depression [Structured Clinical Interview for DSM-IV]) were evaluated after 8 weeks using intention-to-treat principles and linear mixed models. Compared with the UC group, in the CBT group, there was greater decline in BDI scores (β = 1.41; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.81–2.02; P = < .001) and greater remission of clinical depression (29 [64%] vs 9 [25%]; number need to treat, 2.5; 95% CI, 1.7–4.9; P < .001). Compared with the early CBT group (median time from surgery to CBT, 45.5 days) the later UC + CBT group (median time from surgery to CBT, 122 days) also experienced a reduction in BDI scores, but the group × time effect was smaller (β = 0.79; 95% CI, 0.10–1.47; P = .03) and remission rates between the 2 groups did not differ.

Conclusions:

Early home CBT is effective in depressed postcardiac surgery patients. Early treatment is associated with greater symptom reduction than similar therapy given later after surgery.

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