Augmented Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Poststroke Depressive Symptoms: A Randomized Controlled Trial

Published:November 12, 2016DOI:



      To evaluate the effectiveness of individually tailored cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) for reducing depressive symptoms with or without anxiety poststroke.


      Multicenter, assessor-blinded, randomized controlled trial.


      Ambulatory rehabilitation setting.


      Patients who had a Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale-depression subscale (HADS-D) score >7 at least 3 months poststroke (N=61).


      Participants were randomly allocated to either augmented CBT or computerized cognitive training (CCT). The CBT intervention was based on the principles of recognizing, registering, and altering negative thoughts and cognitions. CBT was augmented with goal-directed real-life activity training given by an occupational or movement therapist.

      Main Outcome Measures

      HADS-D was the primary outcome, and measures of participation and quality of life were secondary outcomes. Outcome measurements were performed at baseline, immediately posttreatment, and at 4- and 8-month follow-up. Analysis was performed with linear mixed models using group (CBT vs CCT) as the between-subjects factor and time (4 assessments) as the within-subjects factor.


      Mixed model analyses showed a significant and persistent time effect for HADS-D (mean difference, −4.6; 95% confidence interval, −5.7 to −3.6; P<.001) and for participation and quality of life in both groups. There was no significant group × time effect for any of the outcome measures.


      Our augmented CBT intervention was not superior to CCT for the treatment of mood disorders after stroke. Future studies should determine whether both interventions are better than natural history.


      List of abbreviations:

      CBT (Cognitive behavioral therapy), CCT (Computerized cognitive training), CI (Confidence interval), HADS-D (Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale-depression subscale)
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