Depression is a frequently observed and disabling condition in primary care, mainly treated by Primary Care Physicians with antidepressant drugs. Psychological interventions are recommended as first-line treatment by the most authoritative international guidelines but few evidences are available on their efficacy and effectiveness for mild depression.
This multi-center randomized controlled trial was conducted in 9 Italian centres with the aim to compare the efficacy of Inter-Personal Counseling, a brief structured psychological intervention, to that of Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors. Patients with depressive symptoms referred by Primary Care Physicians to psychiatric consultation-liaison services were eligible for the study if they met the DSM-IV criteria for major depression, had a score greater than or equal to 13 on the 21-item Hamilton Depression Rating Scale, and were at their first or second depressive episode. The primary outcome was remission of depressive symptoms at 2-months, defined as a HDRS score less than or equal to 7. Secondary outcome measures were improvement in global functioning and recurrence of depressive symptoms at 12-months. Patients who did not respond to Inter-Personal Counseling or Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors at 2-months received augmentation with the other treatment.Discussion This trial addresses some of the shortcomings of existing trials targeting major depression in primary care by evaluating the comparative efficacy of a brief psychological intervention that could be easily disseminated, by including a sample of patients with mild/moderate depression and by using different outcome measures.TRIAL REGISTRATION. Australian New Zealand Clinical Trials Registry ACTRN12608000479303