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Dynamic interpersonal therapy (DIT) is a brief, structured psychodynamic psychotherapy with demonstrated efficacy in treating major depressive disorder (MDD). The aim of the study was to determine whether DIT is an acceptable and efficacious treatment for MDD patients in China.
Patients were randomized to 16-week treatments with either DIT plus antidepressant medication (DIT + ADM; n = 66), general supportive therapy plus antidepressant medication (GST + ADM; n = 75) or antidepressant medication alone (ADM; n = 70). The Hamilton Depression Rating Scale (HAMD) administered by blind raters was the primary efficacy measure. Assessments were completed during the acute 16-week treatment and up to 12-month posttreatment.
The group × time interaction was significant for the primary outcome HAMD (F = 2.900, df1 = 10, df2 = 774.72, p = 0.001) in the acute treatment phase. Pairwise comparisons showed a benefit of DIT + ADM over ADM at weeks 12 [least-squares (LS) mean difference = −3.161, p = 0.007] and 16 (LS mean difference = −3.237, p = 0.004). Because of the unexpected high attrition during the posttreatment follow-up phase, analyses of follow-up data were considered exploratory. Differences between DIT + ADM and ADM remained significant at the 1-, 6-, and 12-month follow-up (ps range from 0.001 to 0.027). DIT + ADM had no advantage over GST + ADM during the acute treatment phase. However, at the 12-month follow-up, patients who received DIT remained less depressed.
Acute treatment with DIT or GST in combination with ADM was similarly efficacious in reducing depressive symptoms and yielded a better outcome than ADM alone. DIT may provide MDD patients with long-term benefits in symptom improvement but results must be viewed with caution.
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