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The Effects of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy as an Anti-Depressive Treatment is Falling: A Meta-Analysis

PainSci » bibliography » Johnsen et al 2015
Tags: random, mind

One article on PainSci cites Johnsen 2015: Cognitive Behavioural Therapy for Chronic Pain

PainSci commentary on Johnsen 2015: ?This page is one of thousands in the bibliography. It is not a general article: it is focused on a single scientific paper, and it may provide only just enough context for the summary to make sense. Links to other papers and more general information are provided wherever possible.

The evidence of the benefit of cognitive behavioural therapy for depression may be declining over time: “modern CBT clinical trials seemingly provided less relief from depressive symptoms as compared with the seminal trials.”

Or it may not be: the importance of the “decline effect” has probably been exaggerated. It’s also possible — and probably more likely — that CBT for depression is just following the pattern that we see with so many interventions: early excitement and bias produces "promising" results that are mostly the result of p-hacking and cannot be reproduced by later studies. This is practically standard.

~ Paul Ingraham

original abstract Abstracts here may not perfectly match originals, for a variety of technical and practical reasons. Some abstacts are truncated for my purposes here, if they are particularly long-winded and unhelpful. I occasionally add clarifying notes. And I make some minor corrections.

A meta-analysis examining temporal changes (time trends) in the effects of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) as a treatment for unipolar depression was conducted. A comprehensive search of psychotherapy trials yielded 70 eligible studies from 1977 to 2014. Effect sizes (ES) were quantified as Hedge's g based on the Beck Depression Inventory (BDI) and the Hamilton Rating Scale for Depression (HRSD). Rates of remission were also registered. The publication year of each study was examined as a linear metaregression predictor of ES, and as part of a 2-way interaction with other moderators (Year × Moderator). The average ES of the BDI was 1.58 (95% CI [1.43, 1.74]), and 1.69 for the HRSD (95% CI [1.48, 1.89]). Subgroup analyses revealed that women profited more from therapy than did men (p < .05). Experienced psychologists (g = 1.55) achieved better results (p < .01) than less experienced student therapists (g = 0.98). The metaregressions examining the temporal trends indicated that the effects of CBT have declined linearly and steadily since its introduction, as measured by patients' self-reports (the BDI, p < .001), clinicians' ratings (the HRSD, p < .01) and rates of remission (p < .01). Subgroup analyses confirmed that the declining trend was present in both within-group (pre/post) designs (p < .01) and controlled trial designs (p = .02). Thus, modern CBT clinical trials seemingly provided less relief from depressive symptoms as compared with the seminal trials. Potential causes and possible implications for future studies are discussed.

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