Clinical relevance of findings in trials of CBT for depression

P. Lepping*, R. Whittington, R.S. Sambhi, S. Lane, R. Poole, S. Leucht , P. Cuijpers, R. McCabe, W. Waheed

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review

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Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) is beneficial in depression. Symptom scores can be translated into Clinical Global Impression (CGI) scale scores to indicate clinical relevance. We aimed to assess the clinical relevance of findings of randomised controlled trials (RCTs) of CBT in depression. We identified RCTs of CBT that used the Hamilton Rating Scale for Depression (HAMD). HAMD scores were translated into Clinical Global Impression – Change scale (CGI-I) scores to measure clinical relevance. One hundred and seventy datasets from 82 studies were included. The mean percentage HAMD change for treatment arms was 53.66%, and 29.81% for control arms, a statistically significant difference. Combined active therapies showed the biggest improvement on CGI-I score, followed by CBT alone. All active treatments had better than expected HAMD percentage reduction and CGI-I scores. CBT has a clinically relevant effect in depression, with a notional CGI-I score of 2.2, indicating a significant clinical response. The non-specific or placebo effect of being in a psychotherapy trial was a 29% reduction of HAMD.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)207-211
Number of pages5
JournalEuropean Psychiatry
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2017


  • Clinical Global Impression Scale
  • Clinical relevance
  • Cognitive behavioural therapy
  • Depression
  • Hamilton Rating Scale for Depression


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