Life-review therapy with computer supplements for depression in the elderly: a randomized controlled trial

Aging Ment Health. 2012;16(8):964-74. doi: 10.1080/13607863.2012.702726. Epub 2012 Jul 13.


Life-review therapy has been recognized as an effective therapeutic approach for depression in older adults. Additionally, the use of new media is becoming increasingly common in psychological interventions. The aim of this study was to investigate a life-review therapy in a face-to-face setting with additional computer use. This study explored whether a six-week life-review therapy with computer supplements from the e-mental health Butler system constitutes an effective approach to treat depression in older adults aged 65 and over. A total of 36 participants with elevated levels of depressive symptoms were randomized to a treatment group or a waiting-list control group and completed the post-assessment. Fourteen individuals in the intervention group completed the follow-up assessment. Analyses revealed significant changes from pre- to post-treatment or follow-up for depression, well-being, self-esteem, and obsessive reminiscence, but not for integrative reminiscence and life satisfaction. Depressive symptoms decreased significantly over time until the three-month follow-up in the intervention group compared to the control group (pre to post: d = 1.13; pre to follow-up: d = 1.27; and group × time effect pre to post: d = 0.72). Furthermore, the therapy led to an increase in well-being and a decrease in obsessive reminiscence among the participants in the intervention group from pre-treatment to follow-up (well-being: d = 0.70; obsessive reminiscence: d = 0.93). Analyses further revealed a significant but small group × time effect regarding self-esteem (d = 0.19). By and large, the results indicate that the life-review therapy in this combined setting could be recommended for depressive older adults.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Behavior Therapy / methods*
  • Computers
  • Depression / therapy*
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Germany
  • Humans
  • Life Change Events*
  • Male
  • Memory*
  • Personal Satisfaction*
  • Quality of Life
  • Self Concept
  • Self Report
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Time Factors
  • Treatment Outcome