Individuals with depression often do not respond to medication or psychotherapy. Radically open dialectical behaviour therapy (RO DBT) is a new treatment targeting overcontrolled personality, common in refractory depression.
To compare RO DBT plus treatment as usual (TAU) for refractory depression with TAU alone (trial registration: ISRCTN 85784627).
RO DBT comprised 29 therapy sessions and 27 skills classes over 6 months. Our completed randomised trial evaluated RO DBT for refractory depression over 18 months in three British secondary care centres. Of 250 adult participants, we randomised 162 (65%) to RO DBT. The primary outcome was the Hamilton Rating Scale for Depression (HRSD), assessed masked and analysed by treatment allocated.
After 7 months, immediately following therapy, RO DBT had significantly reduced depressive symptoms by 5.40 points on the HRSD relative to TAU (95% CI 0.94–9.85). After 12 months (primary end-point), the difference of 2.15 points on the HRSD in favour of RO DBT was not significant (95% CI –2.28 to 6.59); nor was that of 1.69 points on the HRSD at 18 months (95% CI –2.84 to 6.22). Throughout RO DBT participants reported significantly better psychological flexibility and emotional coping than controls. However, they reported eight possible serious adverse reactions compared with none in the control group.
The RO DBT group reported significantly lower HRSD scores than the control group after 7 months, but not thereafter. The imbalance in serious adverse reactions was probably because of the controls' limited opportunities to report these.
Declaration of interest
Six of the 16 authors have received royalties or fees for RO DBT. R.J.H. is co-owner and director of Radically Open Ltd, the RO DBT training and dissemination company. D.K. reports grants outside the submitted work from NIHR. T.R.L. receives royalties from New Harbinger Publishing for sales of RO DBT treatment manuals, speaking fees from Radically Open Ltd and a grant outside the submitted work from the Medical Research Council. He was codirector of Radically Open Ltd between November 2014 and May 2015 and is married to Erica Smith-Lynch, the principal shareholder and one of two current directors of Radically Open Ltd. H.O’M. reports personal fees from the Charlie Waller Institute and Improving Access to Psychological Therapy. S.C.R. provides RO DBT supervision through S C Rushbrook Ltd. I.T.R. reports grants outside the submitted work from NIHR and Health & Care Research Wales. M.St. reports personal fees from British Isles DBT Training, Stanton Psychological Services Ltd, and Taylor & Francis Ltd. M.Sw. reports personal fees from British Isles DBT Training, Guilford Press, Oxford University Press and Taylor & Francis Ltd. B.W. was codirector of Radically Open Ltd between November 2014 and February 2015.