Telephone-based cognitive behavioral therapy for depression in Parkinson disease: A randomized controlled trial

Neurology. 2020 Apr 21;94(16):e1764-e1773. doi: 10.1212/WNL.0000000000009292. Epub 2020 Apr 1.


Objective: To determine whether, for patients with depression and Parkinson disease (PD), telephone-based cognitive-behavioral treatment (T-CBT) alleviates depressive symptoms significantly more than treatment as usual (TAU), we conducted a randomized controlled trial to evaluate the efficacy of a 10-session T-CBT intervention for depression in PD, compared to TAU.

Methods: Seventy-two people with PD (PWP) were randomized to T-CBT + TAU or TAU only. T-CBT tailored to PWPs' unique needs was provided weekly for 3 months, then monthly during 6-month follow-up. CBT targeted negative thoughts (e.g., "I have no control"; "I am helpless") and behaviors (e.g., social withdrawal, excessive worry). It also trained care partners to help PWP practice healthy habits. Blind raters assessed outcomes at baseline, midtreatment, treatment end, and 1 and 6 months post-treatment. Analyses were intent to treat.

Results: T-CBT outperformed TAU on all depression, anxiety, and quality of life measures. The primary outcome (Hamilton Depression Rating Scale score) improved significantly in T-CBT compared to TAU by treatment end. Mean improvement from baseline was 6.53 points for T-CBT and -0.27 points for TAU (p < 0.0001); gains persisted over 6-month follow-up (p < 0.0001). Improvements were moderated by a reduction in negative thoughts in the T-CBT group only, reflecting treatment target engagement.

Conclusions: T-CBT may be an effective depression intervention that addresses a significant unmet PD treatment need and bypasses access barriers to multidisciplinary, evidence-based care.

Clinicaltrialsgov identifier: NCT02505737.

Classification of evidence: This study provides Class I evidence that for patients with depression and PD, T-CBT significantly alleviated depressive symptoms compared to usual care.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Antidepressive Agents / therapeutic use
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy / methods*
  • Depression / complications
  • Depression / psychology
  • Depression / therapy
  • Depressive Disorder, Major / complications
  • Depressive Disorder, Major / psychology
  • Depressive Disorder, Major / therapy*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Parkinson Disease / complications
  • Parkinson Disease / psychology*
  • Telemedicine / methods
  • Telephone*
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Antidepressive Agents

Associated data