Sequential Combination of Cognitive-Behavioral Treatment and Well-Being Therapy in Depressed Patients with Acute Coronary Syndromes: A Randomized Controlled Trial (TREATED-ACS Study)

Psychother Psychosom. 2020;89(6):345-356. doi: 10.1159/000510006. Epub 2020 Aug 13.


Introduction: Randomized controlled trials (RCT) of psychotherapeutic interventions have addressed depression and demoralization associated with acute coronary syndromes (ACS). The present trial introduces psychological well-being, an increasingly recognized factor in cardiovascular health, as a therapeutic target.

Objective: This study was designed to determine whether the sequential combination of cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) and well-being therapy (WBT) may yield more favorable outcomes than an active control group (clinical management; CM) and to identify subgroups of patients at greater risk for cardiac negative outcomes.

Methods: This multicenter RCT comparedCBT/WBT sequential combination versus CM, with up to 30 months of follow-up. One hundred consecutive depressed and/or demoralized patients (out of 740 initially screened by cardiologists after a first episode of ACS) were randomized to CBT/WBT associated with lifestyle suggestions (n = 50) and CM (n = 50). The main outcome measures included: severity of depressive symptoms according to the Clinical Interview for Depression, changes in subclinical psychological distress, well-being, and biomarkers, and medical complications and events.

Results: CBT/WBT sequential combination was associated with a significant improvement in depressive symptoms compared to CM. In both groups, the benefits persisted at follow-up, even though the differences faded. Treatment was also related to a significant amelioration of biomarkers (platelet count, HDL, and D-dimer), whereas the 2 groups showed similar frequencies of adverse cardiac events.

Conclusions: Addressing psychological well-being in the psychotherapeutic approach to ACS patients with depressive symptoms was found to entail important clinical benefits. It is argued that lifestyle changes geared toward cardiovascular health may be facilitated by a personalized approach that targets well-being.

Keywords: Acute coronary syndrome; Cognitive-behavioral therapy; Depression; Sequential treatment; Well-being therapy.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Acute Coronary Syndrome / complications*
  • Acute Coronary Syndrome / psychology
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy*
  • Depression / therapy*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Interviews as Topic
  • Life Style*
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Stress, Psychological / psychology*