Memory Support Strategies and Bundles: A Pathway to Improving Cognitive Therapy for Depression?

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Objective: Therapist use of memory support (MS) alongside treatment-as-usual, with the goal of enhancing patient recall of treatment contents, has been of recent interest as a novel pathway to improve treatment outcome. The memory support intervention (MSI) involves treatment providers’ using 8 specific MS strategies to promote patient memory for treatment. The present study examines to what extent therapist use of MS strategies and bundles improves patient recall of treatment contents and treatment outcome. Method: The data were drawn from a pilot RCT reported elsewhere. Participants were 48 adults (mean age = 44.27 years, 29 females) with major depressive disorder (MDD), randomized to receive 14 sessions of either CT + Memory Support (n = 25) or CT-as-usual (n = 23). Therapist use of MS was coded using the Memory Support Rating Scale. Patient memory and treatment outcomes were assessed at baseline, midtreatment (patient recall only), posttreatment, and 6-month follow-up. Results: Participants in CT + Memory Support received significantly higher amount of MS relative to CT-as-usual. Although not reaching statistical significance, small-to-medium effects were observed between MS strategies and patient recall in the expected direction. Although MS variables were not significantly associated with changes in continuous depressive symptoms, MS was associated with better global functioning. MS also exhibited small to medium effects on treatment response and recurrence in the expected direction but not on remission, though these effects did not reach statistical significance. Conclusions: These results provide initial empirical evidence supporting an active method for therapists to implement MS strategies.

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