Background: A randomized trial of a primary care-based intervention to prevent depression relapse resulted in improved adherence to long-term antidepressant medication and depression outcomes. We evaluated the effects of this intervention on behavioural processes and identified process predictors of improved depressive symptoms.
Method: Patients at high risk for depression recurrence or relapse following successful acute phase treatment (N=386) were randomly assigned to receive a low intensity 12-month intervention or continued usual care. The intervention combined education about depression, shared decision-making regarding use of maintenance pharmacotherapy and cognitive-behavioural strategies to promote self-management. Baseline, 3, 6, 9 and 12-month interviews assessed patients' self-care practices, self-efficacy for managing depression and depressive symptoms.
Results: Intervention patients had significantly greater self-efficacy for managing depression (P<0.01) and were more likely to keep track of depressive symptoms (P<0.0001), monitor early warning signs (P<0.0001), and plan for coping with high risk situations (P<0.0001) at all time points compared to usual care control patients. Self-efficacy for managing depression (P<0.0001), keeping track of depressive symptoms (P=0.05), monitoring for early warning signs (P=0.01), engaging in pleasant activities (P<0.0001) and engaging in social activities (P<0.0001) positively predicted improvements in depression symptom scores.
Conclusions: A brief intervention designed to target cognitive-behavioural factors and promote adherence to pharmacotherapy in order to prevent depression relapse was highly successful in changing several behaviours related to controlling depression. Improvements in self-efficacy and several self-management behaviours that were targets of the intervention were significantly related to improvements in depression outcome.