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A Meta Analysis of Randomised Trials of Behavioural Treatment of Depression

Ekers, D.; Richards, D.; Gilbody, S.

A Meta Analysis of Randomised Trials of Behavioural Treatment of Depression Thumbnail


D. Ekers

D. Richards

S. Gilbody


Background Depression is a common, disabling condition for which psychological treatments, in particular cognitive behavioural therapies are recommended. Promising results in recent randomized trials have renewed interest in behavioural therapy. This systematic review sought to identify all randomized trials of behavioural therapy for depression, determine the effect of such interventions and examine any moderators of such effect. Method Randomized trials of behavioural treatments of depression versus controls or other psychotherapies were identified using electronic database searches, previous reviews and reference lists. Data on symptom-level, recovery/dropout rate and study-level moderators (study quality, number of sessions, severity and level of training) were extracted and analysed using meta-analysis and meta-regression respectively. Results Seventeen randomized controlled trials including 1109 subjects were included in this meta-analysis. A random-effects meta-analysis of symptom-level post-treatment showed behavioural therapies were superior to controls [standardized mean difference (SMD) −0.70, 95% CI −1.00 to −0.39, k=12, n=459], brief psychotherapy (SMD −0.56, 95% CI −1.0 to −0.12, k=3, n=166), supportive therapy (SMD −0.75, 95% CI −1.37 to −0.14, k=2, n=45) and equal to cognitive behavioural therapy (SMD 0.08, 95% CI −0.14 to 0.30, k=12, n=476). Conclusions The results in this study indicate behavioural therapy is an effective treatment for depression with outcomes equal to that of the current recommended psychological intervention. Future research needs to address issues of parsimony of such interventions.


Ekers, D., Richards, D., & Gilbody, S. (2008). A Meta Analysis of Randomised Trials of Behavioural Treatment of Depression. Psychological Medicine, 38(5), 611-623.

Journal Article Type Article
Publication Date May 1, 2008
Deposit Date May 13, 2011
Publicly Available Date Jun 2, 2011
Journal Psychological Medicine
Print ISSN 0033-2917
Publisher Cambridge University Press
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 38
Issue 5
Pages 611-623
Keywords Behavioural therapy, Cognitive behavioural therapy, Depression, Meta-analysis, Psychotherapy.


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