Minimal-contact psychotherapy for sub-threshold depression in primary care. Randomised trial

Br J Psychiatry. 2004 Nov;185:416-21. doi: 10.1192/bjp.185.5.416.


Background: Sub-threshold depression is a prognostic variable for major depression. Interventions in sub-threshold depression may prevent the onset of new cases of major depression.

Aims: To examine the effects of minimal-contact psychotherapy in primary care patients with sub-threshold depression on the onset of major depression, on the reduction in depressive symptoms and on health-related quality of life.

Method: We conducted a randomised trial in primary care, in which patients screened for sub-threshold depression were randomly assigned to minimal-contact psychotherapy (n=107) or to usual care (n=109).

Results: One year after baseline, the incidence of major depressive disorder was found to be significantly lower in the psychotherapy group (12%) than in those receiving usual care (18%). Small but significant effects were also found on depressive symptoms and on aspects of health-related quality of life.

Conclusions: Primary care patients with sub-threshold depression can benefit from minimal-contact psychotherapy.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Multicenter Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Depressive Disorder / therapy*
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Health Status
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Netherlands / epidemiology
  • Psychotherapy / methods*
  • Quality of Life