Objective: The primary objective of this study was to examine a variety of potential predictors of response to Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) in depressed older adults.
Method: Sixty older adults with a clinical diagnosis of major or minor depression or dysthymic disorder received 12 individual sessions of CBT over a three- to four-month-period. The BDI-II was administered pre- and post-intervention to assess change in the level of depression. A cutoff score of 13 or less at post was used to determine positive treatment response. A variety of measures (obtained at baseline) were evaluated using hierarchical regression techniques to predict improvement following treatment.
Results: Individuals who showed greater improvement were: (a) more open to new experiences; (b) less negatively affected by past stressors; (c) less inclined to have an external locus of control but more likely to cite others as responsible for negative stress in their lives; and (d) were more likely to seek emotional support when symptomatic. Lower education level and reported use of active coping strategies at baseline were associated with less improvement. Other variables (e.g., age, overall physical health, and cognitive status) were not associated with treatment response. Use of logistic regression to predict responders vs. nonresponders yielded a similar pattern.
Conclusion: These findings agree with prior research confirming the effectiveness of a brief CBT intervention for older depressed persons and suggest further exploration of several psychosocial factors that may contribute to a stronger response to CBT.