Late-life depression : a systematic review of meta-analyses and a meta-analysis of the effect of cognitive behavioural therapy in older adults with co-morbid physical illness
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Aims: To examine the efficacy of CBT for late-life depression in older adults with co-morbid physical illness and to review what has been revealed by meta-analytic studies with regards moderators of treatment in psychological approaches for late-life depression. Method: Systematic literature search and meta-analysis of randomised controlled trials (RCT) evaluating CBT for depression in older adults with co-morbid physical illness and systematic review of meta-analyses examining psychological therapies for late-life depression. Results: Nine papers met inclusion criteria for meta-analysis. CBT was superior to waiting list and treatment as usual control conditions, showing a statistically significant pooled standardised mean difference (SMD) of 0.63 (95 per cent CI, 0.29 to 0.97, p = 0.0003). This was largely maintained at follow up (SMD 0.5, 95 per cent CI, 0.08 to 0.92). Sensitivity analysis showed individual CBT yielded a large, statistically significant summary effect size of 0.80 (95 per cent CI, 0.45 to 1.16), but that group CBT did not show statistical superiority over controls. Clinician-rated measures of depression yielded larger effect sizes, with a SMD of 1.57 (95 per cent CI, 0.56 to 2.59, p = 0.002) as compared with patientrated measures: 1.03 (95 per cent CI, 0.75 to 1.31, p = 0.0001). Fourteen meta-analyses met inclusion criteria for systematic review. More recent publication was significantly correlated with increased reporting quality and reduced analysis of moderating factors. Duration of treatment, treatment setting and gender of participants showed no moderating impact on outcome. Depression severity, participant age, treatment modality, and study quality showed no consistent relationship with outcomes. Active or placebo controls were associated with reduced effect sizes when compared with no treatment or waiting list controls. Patient-rated outcome measures were associated with reduced effect sizes as compared with clinician-rated measures. Conclusions: When compared with treatment as usual and waiting list controls Individual CBT is effective in reducing depressive symptoms for depressed older adults with an underlying physical illness. Meta-analytic studies of late-life depression show variable results regarding moderators of treatment efficacy. More high quality studies examining the effectiveness of psychological therapies are needed with clinically representative older populations, particularly, the older-old and those with co-morbid physical illnesses.