A feasibility study of behavioural activation for depressive symptoms in adults with intellectual disabilities

Jahoda, A., Melville, C.A. , Pert, C., Cooper, S.-A. , Lynn, H., Williams, C. and Davidson, C. (2015) A feasibility study of behavioural activation for depressive symptoms in adults with intellectual disabilities. Journal of Intellectual Disability Research, 59(11), pp. 1010-1021. (doi:10.1111/jir.12175)

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Abstract

Background: Important work has been carried out adapting cognitive behavioural therapy for people with intellectual disabilities. However, there is a lack of alternative psychological therapies available for people with intellectual disabilities and emotional difficulties. Behavioural activation for depression is less reliant on verbal communication and focuses on increasing purposeful activity and reducing avoidance. Method: This feasibility study involved the development and piloting of an adapted manual of behavioural activation for people with intellectual disabilities. The intervention consisted of 10–12 sessions and a key adaptation was that the therapist worked with the clients alongside a significant other in their life, either a paid carer or family member. Baseline, post-intervention (3 months after entering the study) and 6-month quantitative follow-up data were obtained. Primary outcome data were gathered, concerning depressive symptoms, participants' levels of activity and general well-being. Results: Twenty-three adults with intellectual disabilities with symptoms of depression were recruited from specialist health services. In terms of acceptability, the behavioural activation intervention was well received and only two individuals dropped out, with a further two lost to follow-up. The main measures of depression appeared to be sensitive to change. Pre- to post-intervention data showed a significant reduction in self-report of depressive symptoms with a strong effect size (r = 0.78), that was maintained at follow-up (r = 0.86). Positive change was also obtained for informant reports of depressive symptoms from pre- to post-intervention, with a strong effect size (r = 0.7). Once again, this positive change was maintained at follow-up (r = 0.72). Conclusions: The study suggested that behavioural activation may be a feasible and worthwhile approach to tackling depression in people with intellectual disabilities. However, a randomised controlled trial would be required to establish its effectiveness, with more sensitive measurement of change in activity.

Item Type:Articles
Status:Published
Refereed:Yes
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Pert, Dr Carol and Williams, Professor Christopher and Jahoda, Professor Andrew and Cooper, Professor Sally-Ann and Melville, Professor Craig and Davidson, Miss Claire
Authors: Jahoda, A., Melville, C.A., Pert, C., Cooper, S.-A., Lynn, H., Williams, C., and Davidson, C.
College/School:College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > Institute of Health and Wellbeing > Mental Health and Wellbeing
Journal Name:Journal of Intellectual Disability Research
Publisher:John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
ISSN:0964-2633
ISSN (Online):1365-2788
Published Online:14 December 2014
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2014 Wiley
First Published:First published in 2014 Journal of Intellectual Disability Research 59(11):1010-1021
Publisher Policy:Reproduced in accordance with the copyright policy of the publisher

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