To explicate differences between early and recent meta-analytic estimates of the effects of cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) for adolescent depression.
Meta-analytic procedures were used to investigate whether methodological characteristics moderated mean effect sizes among 11 randomized, controlled trials of CBT focusing on adolescents meeting diagnostic criteria for unipolar depression.
Cumulative meta-analyses indicated that effects of CBT have decreased from large effects in early trials, and confidence intervals have become narrower. Effect sizes were significantly smaller among studies that used intent-to-treat analytic strategies, compared CBT to active treatments, were conducted in clinical settings, and featured greater methodological rigor based on CONSORT (Consolidated Standards of Reporting Trials) criteria. The mean posttreatment effect size of 0.53 was statistically significant.
Differences in estimates of the efficacy of CBT for depressed adolescents may stem from methodological differences between early and more recent investigations. Overall, results support the effectiveness of CBT for the treatment of adolescent depression.
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