Comparative efficacy and durability of continuation phase cognitive therapy for preventing recurrent depression: Design of a double-blinded, fluoxetine- and pill placebo-controlled, randomized trial with 2-year follow-up

Robin B. Jarrett, Michael E. Thase

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

34 Scopus citations


Background: Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) is highly prevalent and associated with disability and chronicity. Although cognitive therapy (CT) is an effective short-term treatment for MDD, a significant proportion of responders subsequently suffer relapses or recurrences. Purpose: This design prospectively evaluates: 1) a method to discriminate CT-treated responders at lower vs. higher risk for relapse; and 2) the subsequent durability of 8-month continuation phase therapies in randomized higher risk responders followed for an additional 24 months. The primary prediction is: after protocol treatments are stopped, higher risk patients randomly assigned to continuation phase CT (C-CT) will have a lower risk of relapse/recurrence than those randomized to fluoxetine (FLX). Methods: Outpatients, aged 18 to 70 years, with recurrent MDD received 12-14 weeks of CT provided by 15 experienced therapists from two sites. Responders (i.e., no MDD and 17-item Hamilton Rating Scale for Depression ≤ 12) were stratified into higher and lower risk groups based on stability of remission during the last 6 weeks of CT. The lower risk group entered follow-up for 32 months; the higher risk group was randomized to 8 months of continuation phase therapy with either C-CT or clinical management plus either double-blinded FLX or pill placebo. Following the continuation phase, higher risk patients were followed by blinded evaluators for 24 months. Results: The trial began in 2000. Enrollment is complete (n = 523). The follow-up continues. Conclusions: The trial evaluates the preventive effects and durability of acute and continuation phase treatments in the largest known sample of CT responders collected worldwide.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)355-377
Number of pages23
JournalContemporary Clinical Trials
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 1 2010



  • Cognitive therapy
  • Fluoxetine
  • Longitudinal follow-up
  • Recurrent depression
  • Relapse prevention

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology (medical)

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