Objective: To evaluate effectiveness of the Adolescent Coping With Depression (CWD-A) course, a cognitive-behavioral group intervention for depressed adolescents with comorbid conduct disorder.
Method: Between 1998 and 2001, 93 nonincarcerated adolescents (ages 13-17 years) meeting criteria for major depressive disorder and conduct disorder were recruited from a county juvenile justice department and randomly assigned to the CWD-A or a life skills/tutoring control condition. Participants were assessed post-treatment and at 6- and 12-month follow-up. Dichotomous outcomes were analyzed with logistic regression; dimensional measures were analyzed using random effects regression.
Results: Major depressive disorder recovery rates post-treatment were greater in CWD-A (39%) compared with life skills/tutoring control (19%) (odds ratio 2.66, 95% confidence interval = 1.03-6.85). CWD-A participants reported greater reductions in Beck Depression Inventory-II (r2 = 0.055, p =.033) and Hamilton Depression Rating Scale (r2 = 0.047, p =.039) scores and improved social functioning (r2 = 0.064, p =.019) post-treatment. Group differences in major depressive disorder recovery rates at 6- and 12-month follow-up were nonsignificant, as were differences in conduct disorder both post-treatment and during follow-up.
Conclusions: This is the first randomized, controlled trial of a psychosocial intervention with adolescents with major depressive disorder and conduct disorder. Although the CWD-A appears to be an effective acute treatment for depression in adolescents with multiple disorders, findings emphasize the need to improve long-term outcomes for depressed adolescents with psychiatric comorbidity and imply that interventions for comorbid populations focus directly on each specific disorder.