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Combined Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy and Placebo Treatment for Patients with Depression: A Follow-Up Assessment

Authors Schienle A, Jurinec N

Received 1 December 2020

Accepted for publication 19 January 2021

Published 22 February 2021 Volume 2021:14 Pages 233—238


Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single anonymous peer review

Peer reviewer comments 2

Editor who approved publication: Professor Igor Elman

Anne Schienle,1 Nina Jurinec1,2

1 Instiute of Psychology, University of Graz, Graz, Austria; 2Community Health Center Gornja Radgona, Gornja Radgona, Slovenia

Correspondence: Anne Schienle Instiute of Psychology, University of Graz, Universitätsplatz 2, Graz, 8010, Austria

Introduction: A previous study revealed that patients with depression who received a combination of cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) and placebo treatment (CBT+placebo) showed greater symptom reduction than a CBT group without a placebo. Moreover, the CBT+placebo group practiced relaxation training more frequently. We conducted a 3-month follow-up assessment to investigate the temporal stability of the placebo effects.
Methods: Eighty-two outpatients with a diagnosis of major depressive disorder who had participated in a 4-week CBT course (CBT: n = 40; CBT with daily placebo treatment: n = 42) returned to a 3-month follow-up assessment. The participants of the CBT+placebo group had been debriefed directly after the course.
Results: Compared to the CBT group, the CBT+placebo group had lower scores on the Beck Depression Inventory-II (BDI-II) at follow-up and more participants were below the clinical cut-off score of the BDI-II. Additionally, the CBT+placebo group continued to practice relaxation more frequently.
Discussion: This study demonstrates that placebo effects are not short-lived and continue to be present after the debriefing.

Keywords: placebo effects, temporal stability, depression, cognitive-behavioral therapy

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