Group CBT for Older Adults with Mixed Anxiety & Depression

CBT studyObjectives: There is a dearth of older adult evidence regarding the group treatment for co-morbid anxiety and depression. This research evaluated the effectiveness of a low-intensity group psychoeducational approach.

Method: Patients attended six sessions of a manualized cognitive-behavioral group. Validated measures of anxiety, depression and psychological well-being were taken at assessment, termination and six-week follow-up from patients, who also rated the alliance and their anxiety/depression at each group session. Staff rated patients regarding their functioning at assessment, termination and six-week follow-up. Outcomes were categorized according to whether patients had recovered, improved, deteriorated or been harmed. Effect sizes were compared to extant group interventions for anxiety and depression.

Results: Eight groups were completed with 34 patients, with a drop-out rate of 17%. Staff and patient rated outcome measures showed significant improvements (with small effect sizes) in assessment to termination and assessment to follow-up comparisons. Over one quarter (26.47%) of patients met the recovery criteria at follow-up and no patients were harmed. Outcomes for anxiety were better than for depression with the alliance in groups stable over time.

Conclusion: The intervention evaluated shows clinical and organizational promise. The group approach needs to be further developed and tested in research with greater methodological control.

Bains, M. K., Scott, S., Kellett, S., & Saxon, D. (2014). Group psychoeducative cognitive-behaviour therapy for mixed anxiety and depression with older adults. Aging & Mental Health, 18, 8, 1057-1065.

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