Psychotherapy for Depression via Telemedicine

Egede LE, et al. Lancet Psychiatry. 2015; doi:10.1016/S2215-0366(15)00122-4.

Many patients with major depression do not have access to evidence based psychotherapy. This group in the Lancet Psychiatry hoped to demonstrate non-inferiority of therapy delivered via telemedicine as compared to in person therapy.

The study randomly assigned patients from the Ralph H. Johnson Veterans Affairs Medical Center and four surrounding clinics being treated for depression. to eight sessions of either therapy via telemedicine or delivered in the same room. The primary outcome measured was treatment response according to the Geriatric Depression Scale, Beck Depression Inventory, and Structured Clinical Interview.

The study found that the response on all three measures was the same and non-inferior in the telemedicine group compared to the in-person group. “Telemedicine-delivered psychotherapy for older adults with major depression is not inferior to same-room treatment,” the researchers wrote. “This finding shows that evidence-based psychotherapy can be delivered, without modification, via home-based telemedicine, and that this method can be used to overcome barriers to care associated with distance from and difficulty with attendance at in-person sessions in older adults.”

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