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£1.2M trial to test effectiveness of cognitive behavioral therapy

A team of researchers, led by Dr Nicola Wiles at the University of Bristol and involving researchers from the Peninsula Medical School in the South West, has been awarded 1.2 million by the National Institute for Health Research Health Technology Assessment (NIHR HTA) programme for a clinical trial to investigate the effectiveness of cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) for patients with depression who do not respond to treatment with antidepressants.

Patients who have been taking antidepressants for at least six weeks will be invited to participate in the trial and receive either CBT in addition to their medication, or continue with usual care from their general practitioner (including medication). Both groups will be followed up for 12 months to see which approach is the most effective in reducing depressive symptoms and improving quality of life. Recruitment for the trial is due to start in the autumn.

The Bristol team, in partnership with researchers from the University of Exeter, the Peninsula Medical School, the University of Glasgow and the Avon and Wiltshire Mental Health Partnership, will also evaluate the cost-effectiveness of the treatment and patients' views and experiences of it.

Dr Nicola Wiles said: "CBT has been shown to help patients with depression but there is currently little evidence about what alternative treatment options doctors should discuss with patients who do not get better with antidepressants. Improving access to psychological therapies is a Government priority, so it is important that we conduct studies such as this to help inform the care of people with depression."

Professor Campbell (Peninsula Medical School) said: "This study offers the opportunity for patients in the South West to contribute to an important piece of research which will help define the best mode of treatment for patients suffering from depression. The study will bring together a team of researchers from Peninsula Medical School and the University of Exeter (led by Professor Kuyken) in an exciting new venture ultimately aimed at improving patient care in the South West Peninsula"

This trial is one of three new research projects being funded by the NIHR HTA programme to expand the evidence base surrounding the effectiveness of CBT for the treatment of depression. A combination of psychotherapy and behavioural therapy, CBT works by changing people's attitudes and behaviour by focusing on their thoughts, beliefs and attitudes and how these relate to the way they behave. Existing research suggests that CBT may be effective in tackling depression, but more evidence is needed.


Contact: Andrew Gould
The Peninsula College of Medicine and Dentistry

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