Targeted prevention of unipolar depressive disorder in an at-risk sample of high school adolescents: a randomized trial of a group cognitive intervention

J Am Acad Child Adolesc Psychiatry. 1995 Mar;34(3):312-21. doi: 10.1097/00004583-199503000-00016.


Objectives: This investigation attempted to prevent unipolar depressive episodes in a sample of high school adolescents with an elevated risk of depressive disorder.

Method: Adolescents at risk for future depressive disorder by virtue of having elevated depressive symptomatology were selected with a two-stage case-finding procedure. The Center for Epidemiologic Studies-Depression Scale (CES-D) was administered to 1,652 students; adolescents with elevated CES-D scores were interviewed with the Schedule for Affective Disorders and Schizophrenia for School-Age Children. Subjects with current affective diagnoses were referred to nonexperimental services. The remaining 150 consenting subjects were considered at risk for future depression and randomized to either a 15-session cognitive group prevention intervention or an "usual care" control condition. Subjects were reassessed for DSM-III-R diagnostic status after the intervention and at 6- and 12-month follow-up points.

Results: Survival analyses indicated a significant 12-month advantage for the prevention program, with affective disorder total incidence rates of 14.5% for the active intervention, versus 25.7% for the control condition. No differences were detected for nonaffective disorders across the study period.

Conclusion: Depressive disorder can be successfully prevented among adolescents with an elevated future risk.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological*
  • Adolescent
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy*
  • Depressive Disorder / diagnosis
  • Depressive Disorder / prevention & control*
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Proportional Hazards Models
  • Survival Analysis
  • Treatment Outcome