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Psychotherapy by 'generic' nurses effective

By Christian Duffin

Depression can be treated effectively with psychotherapy by ‘inexperienced' mental health nurses with minimal training and could potentially lead to considerable cost savings for the NHS say UK researchers.

The preliminary study offered 47 patients with severe depression either a form of psychotherapy called behavioural activation, offered by mental health nurses who had received five days training in behavioural activation and one hour of clinical supervision every fortnight.

Patients either received the intervention or usual care delivered by GP in 47 patients with an average of 44.

The intention-to-treat analyses showed a highly significant mean difference on the post-Beck Depression Inventory score of -15.78 in favour of behavioural activation compared with usual care.

Patients treated with behavioural activation also showed significantly more signs of recovery, were functioning better and were more satisfied with the treatment compared to the group who received usual care'.

Lead researcher Dr David Ekers, an honorary clinical lecturer at Durham University, said the trial had found ‘very promising early findings'.

He concluded: ‘The results indicate that with limited training, generic mental health workers can be trained to deliver clinically effective behavioural activation to people with long-standing depression.'

British Journal of Psychiatry 2011, online February 16

Psychotherapy by 'generic' nurses effective

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