Innovations in practice: A randomised controlled feasibility trial of Behavioural Activation as a treatment for young people with depression

C E W Kitchen, P Tiffin, Sue Lewis, L Gega, D Ekers

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Background:
Behavioural Activation (BA) treatment effectively reduces symptoms of depression in adults and is more cost-effective than more complex therapies. Two recent systematic reviews of BA for depression in young people highlighted the need for more studies in this area.

Methods:
In order to evaluate the acceptability of BA treatment for adolescents with depression and the feasibility of conducting a trial of this intervention in Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS), 22 patients from across three sites were randomised to BA or usual CAMHS care. Existing CAMHS staff were trained to deliver the manualised intervention following a brief course. Following treatment young people and their parents/carers were asked to complete a feedback survey. Symptoms and functioning were assessed at 3- and 6-month follow-up. The trial was registered with the ISRCTN Registry (ref: ISRCTN52147450; https://www.isrctn.com/).

Results:
Recruitment targets were achieved through screening large numbers of CAMHS service users. Intervention adherence by the participating adolescents was high (median number of completed BA sessions was 7 out of a total of 8). There were tentative suggestions of improvements following treatment; a large change in a positive direction for the BA group, but not for usual care, was observed by visual comparisons of mean scores on measures of depression, self-esteem and functioning. No adverse events were reported.

Conclusions:
The findings suggest that BA in this setting is acceptable and warrants evaluation via a fully powered randomised controlled trial.
Original languageEnglish
JournalChild and Adolescent Mental Health
Early online date28 Jul 2020
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 28 Jul 2020

Keywords

  • behavioural activation
  • adolescents
  • feasibility
  • acceptability
  • depression

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