Researchers at Brigham Young University, in Provo, Utah studied cognitive behavioral therapy–telephone treatment (CBT-TT) as a stand-alone treatment for adult depression.

First, the details.

  • 30 adults initiating psychotherapy for depression at a mental health clinic participated in the study.
  • Instead of 8 scheduled visits to the clinic, the participants covered the same material during a series of phone calls with the therapist.
  • Calls varied in length, ranging from 21 to 52 minutes.
  • The patients did not receive antidepressant medication.

And, the results.

  • 69% of patients were very satisfied with the 8-session CBT-TT.
  • There was a significant reduction in depression severity at 3 and 6 months.
  • 42% of participants were considered to have recovered from depression at the end of the study.

The bottom line?

Too bad there was no control group. However, the 42% response rate with telephone therapy is pretty close, say the authors, to the 50% recovery rate reported when treatment is conducted in person.

The authors concluded, “These findings suggest that CBT-TT for adult depression is feasible and has potential as a stand-alone treatment.”

An earlier study of 400 depressed patients supported the effectiveness of telephone counseling when added to drug therapy.

5/12/10 21:06 JR

Hi, I’m JR

John Russo, Jr., PharmD, is president of The MedCom Resource, Inc. Previously, he was senior vice president of medical communications at, a complementary and alternative medicine website.