Acute phase cognitive therapy for recurrent major depressive disorder: Who drops out and how much do patient skills influence response?

Robin B. Jarrett, Abu Minhajuddin, Julie L. Kangas, Edward S. Friedman, Judith A. Callan, Michael E. Thase

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

39 Scopus citations


Objective: The aims were to predict cognitive therapy (CT) noncompletion and to determine, relative to other putative predictors, the extent to which the patient skills in CT for recurrent major depressive disorder predicted response in a large, two-site trial. Method: Among 523 outpatients aged 18-70, exposed to 12-14 weeks of CT, 21.6% dropped out. Of the 410 completers, 26.1% did not respond. To predict these outcomes, we conducted logistic regression analyses of demographics, pre-treatment illness characteristics and psychosocial measures, and mid-treatment therapeutic alliance. Results: The 17-item Hamilton Rating Scale for Depression (HRSD17) scores at entry predicted dropout and nonresponse. Patients working for pay, of non-Hispanic white race, who were older, or had more education were significantly more likely to complete. Controlling for HRSD17, significant predictors of nonresponse included: lower scores on the Skills of Cognitive Therapy-Observer Version (SoCT-O), not working for pay, history of only two depressive episodes, greater pre-treatment social impairment. Mid-phase symptom reduction was a strong predictor of final outcome. Conclusions: These prognostic indicators forecast which patients tend to be optimal candidates for standard CT, as well as which patients may benefit from changes in therapy, its focus, or from alternate modalities of treatment. Pending replication, the findings underscore the importance of promoting patients' understanding and use of CT skills, as well as reducing depressive symptoms early. Future research may determine the extent to which these findings generalize to other therapies, providers who vary in competency, and patients with other depressive subtypes or disorders.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)221-230
Number of pages10
JournalBehaviour Research and Therapy
Issue number4-5
StatePublished - May 2013


  • Attrition
  • Cognitive therapy
  • Depression
  • Patient skills
  • Predictors
  • Response patterns

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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