Objectives: This study provides an empirical evaluation of Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT) alone vs Treatment as usual (TAU) alone (generally pharmacotherapy) for late life depression in a UK primary care setting.
Method: General Practitioners in Fife and Glasgow referred 114 Participants to the study with 44 meeting inclusion criteria and 40 participants providing data that permitted analysis. All participants had a diagnosis of mild to moderate Major Depressive Episode. Participants were randomly allocated to receive either TAU alone or CBT alone.
Results: Participants in both treatment conditions benefited from treatment with reduced scores on primary measures of mood at end of treatment and at 6 months follow-up from the end of treatment. When adjusting for differences in baseline scores, gender and living arrangements, CBT may be beneficial in levels of hopelessness at 6 months follow-up. When evaluating outcome in terms of numbers of participants meeting Research Diagnostic Criteria for depression, there were significant differences favouring the CBT condition at the end of treatment and at 3 months follow-up after treatment.
Conclusions: CBT alone and TAU alone produced significant reductions in depressive symptoms at the end of treatment and at 6 months follow-up. CBT on its own is shown to be an effective treatment procedure for mild to moderate late life depression and has utility as a treatment alternative for older people who cannot or will not tolerate physical treatment approaches for depression.