Behavioural activation is very effective for depressive symptoms after one week

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Goodfellow Gems

Behavioural activation is very effective for depressive symptoms after one week

An Auckland based study recruited patients from the waiting room then randomised them to do a work/love/play questionnaire1 followed by behavioural activation (BA) or usual care.2

BA usually consisted of doing some exercise, contacting a friend for a social engagement and doing something pleasurable. Each activity had to reach a 7/10 likelihood of doing it (where 10 means absolutely will do it) to be considered a workable option.

The average baseline PHQ 8 was just under 12 (moderate depressive symptoms) and, after one week, 46% of participants were in remission, while in the control group, this was 21% - an NNT of 4.

 A systematic review of trials for depression found an NNT for behavioural activation for depression is 2.5 measured a week to a month after the interventions.3 This suggests that BA is the most effective treatment for depression/depressive symptoms.

References:

  1. Work/love/play worksheet View here
  2. FACT effectiveness in primary care; a single visit RCT for depressive symptoms. The International Journal of Psychiatry in Medicine (2021) View here
  3. Behavioural activation for depression; an update of meta-analysis of effectiveness and sub group analysis. PLoS One (2014) View here

Gems are chosen by the Goodfellow director Dr. Bruce Arroll to be either practice changing or practice maintaining. The information is educational and not clinical advice.



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