Background. Subdysthymic depression occurs in 20–50% of hospitalized elderly and is associated with physical and social disability, delayed recovery, and excess health service use. Despite this, little is known regarding the nature of such depressive symptomatology, or its responsivity to treatment. To address this, a randomized clinical trial assessing the feasibility and efficacy of Interpersonal Counseling (IPC), a short-term psychotherapy, was conducted.Methods. Patients 60 + with a Geriatric Depression Scale (GDS) score > 10 not meeting DSM-Ill-R criteria for major depression ordysthymia were recruited from the acute hospital. Thirty-five individuals were randomized to IPC and 41 to usual care (UC). IPC was delivered following hospital discharge by psychiatric clinical nurse specialists. Interviews were conducted at recruitment and 3, 6, and 12 months later. Primary outcomes were GDS scores, health ratings, and measures of physical and social functioning.Results. At 3 months, IPC group members showed greater improvement than UC members on all outcome variables; between-group differences did not reach statistical significance. At 6 months, a statistically significant difference in the rate of improvement in GDS, indicated by scores of 10 or less, was observed for IPC compared to UC members (60.6% vs 35.1%). Multivariate analyses confirmed a positive treatment effect on depressive symptoms. Similar multivariate analyses showed a statistically significant positive treatment effect on self-rated health but not on physical or social functioning.Conclusions. IPC appears feasible, acceptable, and effective in short-term depressive symptom reduction and in improvement in self-rated health. Implementation of IPC interventions for subdysthymic hospitalized elderly is recommended.
The Journals of Gerontology Series A: Biomedical Sciences and Medical Sciences – Oxford University Press
Published: Jul 1, 1996
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