The Effectiveness of Low‑Intensity Psychological Interventions for Comorbid Depression and Anxiety in Patients with Long‑Term Conditions: A Real‑World Naturalistic Observational Study in IAPT Integrated Care


Chi Tak Lee; Siobhan Harty; Adedeji Adegoke; Jorge Palacios; Claire M. Gillan; Derek Richards

Published: 11 September 2023 on International Journal of Behavioral Medicine


Background Low-intensity psychological interventions may be a cost-effective, accessible solution for treating depression and anxiety in patients with long-term conditions, but evidence from real-world service settings is lacking. This study examined the effectiveness of low-intensity psychological interventions provided in the Improving Access to Psychological Therapies programme in England for patients with and without long-term conditions.

Methods A retrospective analysis was conducted on patients (total N = 21,051, long-term conditions n = 4024) enrolled in  three low-intensity psychological interventions, i.e. Internet-delivered cognitive behavioural therapy (iCBT), guided selfhelp (GSH), and psychoeducational group therapy (PGT) within a Talking Therapies service from 2016 to 2020. Primary outcomes included pre–post-treatment changes in depression (Patient Health Questionnaire-9) and anxiety (Generalised Anxiety Disorder-7).

Results Overall, both cohorts significantly improved on all outcomes post-treatment, with large effect sizes. Patients with long-term conditions experienced a greater reduction in depression while those without experienced a greater reduction in anxiety, but these differences were marginal (< 1 score difference on both measures). No difference between the cohorts was shown when comparing the differential effectiveness across interventions, but those engaging in iCBT showed greater reduction in depression and anxiety than those in GSH and PGT, while those in GSH improved more than PGT.
Conclusions Low-intensity psychological interventions, particularly iCBT, were effective in treating depression and anxiety in patients with long-term conditions in a real-world service setting. Our large-scale study supports the continued and increased implementation of low-intensity psychological interventions for this subpopulation via integrated care.

Keywords Long-term condition · Psychological comorbidities · Depression · Anxiety · Psychological interventions · Real world

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