Outcome of Psychoanalytic and Cognitive-Behavioural Long-Term Therapy with Chronically Depressed Patients: A Controlled Trial with Preferential and Randomized Allocation

November 17, 2018

"Marianne Leuzinger-Bohleber, Martin Hautzinger, Georg Fiedler, Wolfram Keller, Ulrich Bahrke, Lisa Kallenbach, Johannes Kaufhold, Mareike Ernst, Alexa Negele, Margerete Schoett, Helmut Küchenhoff, Felix Günther, Bernhard Rüger, Manfred BeutelCanadian Journal of Psychiatry. Revue Canadienne de Psychiatrie 2018 November 1, : 706743718780340


OBJECTIVE: For chronic depression, the effectiveness of brief psychotherapy has been limited. This study is the first comparing the effectiveness of long-term cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT) and long-term psychoanalytic therapy (PAT) of chronically depressed patients and the effects of preferential or randomized allocation.


METHODS: A total of 252 adults met the inclusion criteria (aged 21-60 years, major depression, dysthymia, double depression for at least 24 months, Quick Inventory of Depressive Symptoms [QIDS] >9, Beck Depression Inventory II [BDI] >17, informed consent, not meeting exclusion criteria). Main outcome measures were depression self-rating (BDI) and rating (clinician-rated QIDS [QIDS-C]) by independent, treatment-blinded clinicians. Full remission rates (BDI ≤12, QIDS-C ≤5) were calculated. An independent center for data management and biostatistics analyzed the treatment effects and differences using linear mixed models (multilevel models and hierarchical models).


RESULTS: The average BDI declined from 32.1 points by 12.1 points over the first year and 17.2 points over 3 years. BDI overall mean effect sizes increased from d = 1.17 after 1 year to d = 1.83 after 3 years. BDI remission rates increased from 34% after 1 year to 45% after 3 years. QIDS-C overall effect sizes increased from d = 1.56 to d = 2.08, and remission rates rose from 39% after 1 year to 61% after 3 years. We found no significant differences between PAT and CBT or between preferential and randomized allocation.


CONCLUSIONS: Psychoanalytic as well as cognitive-behavioural long-term treatments lead to significant and sustained improvements of depressive symptoms of chronically depressed patients exceeding effect sizes of other international outcome studies."

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