The onset of depression during adolescence can adversely impact future functioning. Cognitive-Behavioural Therapy (CBT) has been suggested to prevent depression in adolescence by providing an individual with the ability to interpret and the tools to deal with the impact of negative life events.
Examine the best available evidence to determine the effectiveness of CBT to prevent the onset of depression in young people, and assess whether the incorporation of hopeful elements makes CBT more effective.
A comprehensive three-step search strategy was developed to find both published and unpublished studies in English from 1987 to March 2007. Papers selected for retrieval were then assessed for methodological validity by two independent reviewers.
Papers that used a randomised controlled design and investigated the efficacy of CBT to prevent the onset of depression in young people between the age of 10 years and 16 years were included. Papers were included if the CBT involved between four and 15 sessions, a follow-up period of between 3 and 24 months and included typical strategies, such as the identification of negative and irrational beliefs, the establishment of links between thoughts, feelings and behaviours, and provided tools so participants could self-monitor these.
Data were extracted using the standard tool from the Joanna Briggs Institute, pooled in a meta-analysis, and then grouped and analysed according to the amount of hopeful elements the CBT was judged to contain.
Results and conclusion
Limited evidence was found to indicate that CBT, regardless of its content (i.e. with or without hopeful elements), is effective at preventing the onset of clinical levels of depression in young people on a sustained basis. Nonetheless, given the devastating impact that depression can have on young people's future functioning, further research is needed to develop effective interventions to equip young people with the cognitive skills to buffer its onset on a more sustained basis and to enable them to reach and sustain mental health.
Copyright © 2009 The Authors. Journal Compilation © Blackwell Publishing Asia Pty Ltd.
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