Telephone-based behavioral activation with mental imagery for depression: A pilot randomized clinical trial in isolated older adults during the Covid-19 pandemic

Johnny Pellas, Fritz Renner, Julie L Ji, Mattias Damberg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)
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Abstract

OBJECTIVES: To shield vulnerable persons, particularly the eldery, during the Covid-19 pandemic governments around the world have adviced to use social distancing and self-isolation. Social isolation might put older adults at an increased risk for mental health problems such as depression. There is a need for brief, easy-accessible psychological treatments for depressive symptoms that can be delivered remotely. The aim of this study was to investigate the feasibility, acceptability and preliminary efficacy of telephone-delivered Behavioral Activation with Mental Imagery for the treatment of depressive symptoms in individuals 65 years and older living in isolation during the covid-19-pandemic.

METHODS: In this open-label pilot randomized clinical trial, N = 41 individuals aged 65 years or older with clinically significant symptoms of depression were randomly assigned to either a Behavioral Activation with Mental Imagery treatment condition, or an Attention-Assessment control condition delivered over the telephone over a four week period.

RESULTS: Depressive symptoms decreased more in the treatment condition compared to the control condition. At post treatment 2 out of 16 participants in the treatment condition met diagnostic criteria for depression compared to 9 out of 13 in the control condition. Most participants in the treatment condition were satisfied with the treatment and few adverse effects were observed.

CONCLUSIONS: This pilot study suggests that behavioral activation with mental imagery delivered over the telephone is feasible, acceptable and potentially efficacious for the treatment of depressive symptoms in older individuals living in isolation. Replication in larger samples is needed. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages11
JournalInternational Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry
Volume37
Issue number1
Early online date3 Nov 2021
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2022

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