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There is substantial variation in patient symptoms following psychological therapy for depression and anxiety. However, reliance on endpoint outcomes ignores additional interindividual variation during therapy. Knowing a patient's likely symptom trajectories could guide clinical decisions. We aimed to identify latent classes of patients with similar symptom trajectories over the course of psychological therapy and explore associations between baseline variables and trajectory class.
Patients received high-intensity psychological treatment for common mental health problems at National Health Service Improving Access to Psychological Therapies services in South London (N = 16 258). To identify trajectories, we performed growth mixture modelling of depression and anxiety symptoms over 11 sessions. We then ran multinomial regressions to identify baseline variables associated with trajectory class membership.
Trajectories of depression and anxiety symptoms were highly similar and best modelled by four classes. Three classes started with moderate-severe symptoms and showed (1) no change, (2) gradual improvement, and (3) fast improvement. A final class (4) showed initially mild symptoms and minimal improvement. Within the moderate-severe baseline symptom classes, patients in the two showing improvement as opposed to no change tended not to be prescribed psychotropic medication or report a disability and were in employment. Patients showing fast improvement additionally reported lower baseline functional impairment on average.
Multiple trajectory classes of depression and anxiety symptoms were associated with baseline characteristics. Identifying the most likely trajectory for a patient at the start of treatment could inform decisions about the suitability and continuation of therapy, ultimately improving patient outcomes.
Depression is an important, potentially modifiable dementia risk factor. However, it is not known whether effective treatment of depression through psychological therapies is associated with reduced dementia incidence. The aim of this study was to investigate associations between reduction in depressive symptoms following psychological therapy and the subsequent incidence of dementia.
National psychological therapy data were linked with hospital records of dementia diagnosis for 119808 people aged 65+. Participants received a course of psychological therapy treatment in Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT) services between 2012 and 2019. Cox proportional hazards models were run to test associations between improvement in depression following psychological therapy and incidence of dementia diagnosis up to eight years later.
Improvements in depression following treatment were associated with reduced rates of dementia diagnosis up to 8 years later (HR = 0.88, 95% CI 0.83–0.94), after adjustment for key covariates. Strongest effects were observed for vascular dementia (HR = 0.86, 95% CI 0.77–0.97) compared with Alzheimer's disease (HR = 0.91, 95% CI 0.83–1.00).
Reliable improvement in depression across psychological therapy was associated with reduced incidence of future dementia. Results are consistent with at least two possibilities. Firstly, psychological interventions to improve symptoms of depression may have the potential to contribute to dementia risk reduction efforts. Secondly, psychological therapies may be less effective in people with underlying dementia pathology or they may be more likely to drop out of therapy (reverse causality). Tackling the under-representation of older people in psychological therapies and optimizing therapy outcomes is an important goal for future research.
To determine: whether young adults (aged 18–24) not in education, employment or training (NEET) have different psychological treatment outcomes to other young adults; any socio-demographic or treatment-related moderators of differential outcomes; and whether service-level changes are associated with better outcomes for those who are NEET.
A cohort was formed of 20 293 young adults treated with psychological therapies in eight Improving Access to Psychological Therapies services. Pre-treatment characteristics, outcomes, and moderators of differential outcomes were compared for those who were and were not NEET. Associations between outcomes and the following were assessed for those that were NEET: missing fewer sessions, attending more sessions, having a recorded diagnosis, and waiting fewer days between referral and starting treatment.
Those who were NEET had worse outcomes: odds ratio (OR) [95% confidence interval (CI)] for reliable recovery = 0.68 (0.63–0.74), for deterioration = 1.41 (1.25–1.60), and for attrition = 1.31 (1.19–1.43). Ethnic minority participants that were NEET had better outcomes than those that were White and NEET. Living in deprived areas was associated with worse outcomes. The intensity of treatment (high or low) did not moderate outcomes, but having more sessions was associated with improved outcomes for those that were NEET: odds (per one-session increase) of reliable recovery = 1.10 (1.08–1.12), deterioration = 0.94 (0.91–0.98), and attrition = 0.68 (0.66–0.71).
Earlier treatment, supporting those that are NEET to attend sessions, and in particular, offering them more sessions before ending treatment might be effective in improving clinical outcomes. Additional support when working with White young adults that are NEET and those in more deprived areas may also be important.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, mental health services have had to offer psychological therapy via video with little time to prepare or mitigate potential problems. Identifying the barriers, benefits and training needs highlighted by clinicians may support the effective delivery of care.
Changes in the mode therapy sessions were delivered in during 2020 were assessed in two high-volume psychological therapies services. Sixty-six therapists completed a survey about their experiences of delivering therapy via video.
The lockdown in March 2020 precipitated a dramatic shift from face-to-face to telephone and video-delivered sessions. Most clinicians (89%) found video-based sessions acceptable. Barriers to effective delivery included technological issues, problems with online platforms, and feeling more tired after sessions. Benefits included generalised learning from behavioural work, improvements in efficiency and in the therapeutic relationship, particularly in comparison with telephone-based sessions. Tutorials and support guides were recommended to maximise use of sessions via video.
Video-delivered therapy was liked by clinicians and preferred to telephone-based sessions. Issues with platforms, internet connections and access for patients need addressing, local troubleshooting guides, video-based tutorials and greater support for low-intensity therapists to maximise uptake of video sessions where appropriate, may be beneficial.
This study aimed to investigate general factors associated with prognosis regardless of the type of treatment received, for adults with depression in primary care.
We searched Medline, Embase, PsycINFO and Cochrane Central (inception to 12/01/2020) for RCTs that included the most commonly used comprehensive measure of depressive and anxiety disorder symptoms and diagnoses, in primary care depression RCTs (the Revised Clinical Interview Schedule: CIS-R). Two-stage random-effects meta-analyses were conducted.
Twelve (n = 6024) of thirteen eligible studies (n = 6175) provided individual patient data. There was a 31% (95%CI: 25 to 37) difference in depressive symptoms at 3–4 months per standard deviation increase in baseline depressive symptoms. Four additional factors: the duration of anxiety; duration of depression; comorbid panic disorder; and a history of antidepressant treatment were also independently associated with poorer prognosis. There was evidence that the difference in prognosis when these factors were combined could be of clinical importance. Adding these variables improved the amount of variance explained in 3–4 month depressive symptoms from 16% using depressive symptom severity alone to 27%. Risk of bias (assessed with QUIPS) was low in all studies and quality (assessed with GRADE) was high. Sensitivity analyses did not alter our conclusions.
When adults seek treatment for depression clinicians should routinely assess for the duration of anxiety, duration of depression, comorbid panic disorder, and a history of antidepressant treatment alongside depressive symptom severity. This could provide clinicians and patients with useful and desired information to elucidate prognosis and aid the clinical management of depression.
The COVID-19 pandemic and nationally mandated restrictions to control the virus have been associated with increased mental health issues. However, the differential impact of the pandemic and lockdown on groups of individuals, and the personal characteristics associated with poorer outcomes are unknown.
Data from 21 938 adults in England who participated in a stratified cohort study were analysed. Trajectories of depression and anxiety symptoms were identified using growth mixture modelling. Multinomial and logistic regression models were constructed to identify sociodemographic and personality-related risk factors associated with trajectory class membership.
Four trajectories of depression and five for anxiety were identified. The most common group presented with low symptom severity throughout, other classes were identified that showed: severe levels of symptoms which increased; moderate symptoms throughout; worsening mental health during lockdown but improvements after lockdown ended; and for anxiety only, severe initial anxiety that decreased quickly during lockdown. Age, gender, ethnicity, income, previous diagnoses, living situation, personality factors and sociability were associated with different trajectories.
Nearly 30% of participants experienced trajectories with symptoms in the clinical range during lockdown, and did not follow the average curve or majority group, highlighting the importance of differential trajectories. Young, female, outgoing and sociable people and essential workers experienced severe anxiety around the announcement of lockdown which rapidly decreased. Younger individuals with lower incomes and previous mental health diagnoses experienced higher and increasing levels of symptoms. Recognising the likely symptom trajectories for such groups may allow for targeted care or interventions.
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