Two Trajectories of Depressive Symptom Reduction Throughout Behavioral Activation Teletherapy Among Underserved, Ethnically Diverse, Primary Care Patients: A VitalSign6 Report

Joseph M. Trombello, Charles South, Alma Sánchez, Farra Kahalnik, Beth D. Kennard, Madhukar H. Trivedi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

While prior research has investigated trajectories of depressive symptom change throughout psychotherapy, such work has not been conducted exclusively among underserved patients receiving brief Behavioral Activation (BA) teletherapy, intervention modifications that should reduce barriers to therapy initiation and engagement. The current project used cluster analysis to determine discrete groups of symptom change among patients receiving an 8-session BA teletherapy intervention, and analyzed whether demographic and clinical characteristics were associated with group membership. Data from 105 patients referred from charity primary care clinics and receiving at least two therapy sessions were analyzed. Patients were predominantly female and Latina. The 9-item Patient Health Questionnaire (PHQ-9) was the outcome. Two categories were determined: a larger group (N = 61) demonstrating initially less severe symptoms and experiencing a gradual recovery, and a smaller group beginning with more severe symptoms, and experiencing a steeper recovery. In both groups, a majority of participants experienced at least a 5-point drop in depressive symptoms, while in the latter group, a majority of patients achieved depressive symptom remission (PHQ-9 < 5). Monolingual Spanish speakers were more likely to be in the former group, but no other demographic or clinical characteristics were associated with group membership. In both groups, a majority of the symptom reduction occurred by sessions 4–6. Therefore, two categories of depressive symptom change, slow responders and rapid responders, occur among patients receiving a brief BA teletherapy intervention. No demographic differences aside from primary language, nor any clinical characteristics, distinguish group membership, suggesting similar patterns of symptom reduction among a primarily underserved sample.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)958-971
Number of pages14
JournalBehavior Therapy
Volume51
Issue number6
DOIs
StatePublished - Nov 2020

Keywords

  • behavioral activation
  • depression
  • primary care
  • teletherapy
  • trajectories

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology

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