A multicenter randomized controlled trial for bright light therapy in adults with intellectual disabilities and depression: Study protocol and obstacle management

Res Dev Disabil. 2017 Jan;60:96-106. doi: 10.1016/j.ridd.2016.10.012. Epub 2016 Nov 29.


Due to the limited cognitive and communicative abilities of adults with intellectual disabilities (ID), current treatment options for depression are often limited to lifestyle changes and pharmacological treatment. Bright light therapy (BLT) is an effective intervention for both seasonal and non-seasonal depression in the general population. BLT is an inexpensive, easy to carry out intervention with minimal side effects. However, knowledge on its anti-depressant effect in adults with ID is lacking. Obstacles in realizing a controlled intervention study in this particular study population may have contributed to this lack. To study the effect of BLT on depression in this population, it is necessary to successfully execute a multicenter randomized controlled trial (RCT). Therefore, the study protocol and the management of anticipated obstacles regarding this trial are presented.

Keywords: Bright light therapy; Circadian sleep-wake rhythm; Cortisol and stress; Depression; Intellectual disabilities; Melatonin; Randomized controlled trial.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Actigraphy
  • Adult
  • Circadian Rhythm
  • Depression / metabolism
  • Depression / psychology
  • Depression / therapy*
  • Depressive Disorder, Major / metabolism
  • Depressive Disorder, Major / psychology
  • Depressive Disorder, Major / therapy*
  • Hair / chemistry
  • Humans
  • Hydrocortisone / analysis
  • Hydrocortisone / metabolism
  • Intellectual Disability / psychology*
  • Melatonin / analysis
  • Melatonin / metabolism
  • Phototherapy / methods*
  • Saliva / chemistry
  • Stress, Psychological / metabolism


  • Melatonin
  • Hydrocortisone