Metacognitive training for depression (D-MCT) is a novel low-intensity group training for economic treatment of depression. Previous studies demonstrate its efficacy in moderately depressed outpatients. The present study evaluated efficacy and patients’ perspective of the D-MCT in severely depressed psychiatric inpatients.
In a randomized-controlled trial, 75 individuals with a major depressive disorder (MDD) were allocated to D-MCT versus euthymic therapy as add-on (twice a week) to cognitive-behavioural-based (CBT) inpatient-care. Depressive symptoms (HDRS, BDI), dysfunctional (meta)cognition (DAS, MCQ-30) and subjective appraisal were assessed at baseline, 4 weeks (post) and 3 months (follow-up).
Participants in both conditions showed a large decline in depression at post and follow-up-assessment. No superior add-effect of D-MCT versus active control emerged for depression severity on top of the inpatient care. However, among patients with a diagnosis of MDD with no (vs. at least one) comorbidity, D-MCT participants showed a larger decline in depressive (meta-)cognition at follow-up with medium-to-large effect sizes. D-MCT was evaluated as superior in overall appraisal, treatment preference, motivation and satisfaction.
The follow-up time interval of 3 months may have been too short to detect long-term effects. There is emerging evidence that modification of (meta)cognition unfolds its full effects only with time. Effects of CBT inpatient-care on outcome parameters cannot be differentiated.
Although D-MCT as an add-on was not superior in complete case analyses, results suggest greater benefit for patients with MDD and no comorbidity. D-MCT proved feasible in acute-psychiatric inpatient-care and was highly accepted by patients. Future studies should investigate the role of modified (meta)cognition on long-term treatment outcome, including dropout and relapse rates.