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Volunteer-led behavioural activation to reduce depression in residential care: A feasibility study

journal contribution
posted on 2021-01-11, 04:59 authored by C Bryant, Lydia BrownLydia Brown, M Polacsek, F Batchelor, H Capon, B Dow
© 2020 The Author(s). Objectives: Symptoms of depression are highly prevalent and under-treated in residential aged care facilities. Behavioural activation is a simple, cost-effective psychosocial intervention that might be appropriate to help reduce depression and improve well-being in this setting. The purpose of this study was to investigate the feasibility and efficacy of an 8-week, volunteer-led behavioural activation intervention designed for depressed aged care residents. Method: This feasibility study employed a single-arm design, where outcomes were measured at baseline, post-intervention and 3-month follow-up. Aged care residents with depressive symptoms were invited to participate, and healthy volunteers were trained to deliver the intervention. Intervention feasibility was assessed on six a priori-determined domains. Depression, anxiety and flourishing were included as outcomes using intention-to-treat analysis. Result: Seventeen aged care residents with depressive symptoms and 13 volunteers were successfully recruited within the expected 6-month timeframe. Both residents and volunteers were satisfied with the intervention (7/8), and there was a high (87%) completion rate. The intervention was associated with a large and statistically significant reduction in resident depressive symptoms, d = - 1.14, with the effect increasing to d = 2.82 when comparing baseline to 3-month follow-up. Anxiety reduced from mild symptoms at baseline mean = 6.17 (5.12) to the subclinical range post-intervention, mean = 3.53 (4.29) (g = 0.61, p = 0.03). Conclusion: This 8-week volunteer-led behavioural activation intervention was found to be feasible and acceptable to depressed aged care residents. The intervention was effective in ameliorating depression. A larger randomized controlled trial is warranted.


Publication Date



Pilot and Feasibility Studies





Article Number



10p. (p. 1-10)





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