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Psychotherapy Administered via Telephone Reduces Depression

Telephone-administered psychotherapy is playing an increasing role in mental health care, and more than two-thirds of psychologists use this type of psychotherapy in their practices. This meta-analysis sought to evaluate the efficacy of telephone-administered psychotherapy in reducing the symptoms of depression. Nine of the twelve studies included in this analysis were randomized controlled trials, and ten studies included control conditions. Findings show a significant reduction in depressive symptoms for patients enrolled in telephone-administered psychotherapy as compared to those in control conditions (e.g. treatment as usual). Moreover, attrition rates were considerably lower than rates reported in face-to-face psychotherapy. For example, the mean attrition rate was 7.6% across these 12 studies compared to 46.9% reported in another meta-analysis of 125 studies that examined drop-out rates for face-to-face psychotherapy.

Mohr D, Vella L, Hart S, Heckman T, and Simon G. The effect of telephone-administered psychotherapy on symptoms of depression and attrition: A meta-analysis. Clinical Psychology: Science and Practice September 2008;15(3):243-53.

Dr. Mohr is part of HSR&D’s Center for Management of Complex Chronic Care in Hines, IL. Ms. Vella and Dr. Hart are part of the San Francisco VAMC.

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What are HSR&D Publication Briefs?

HSR&D requires notification by HSR&D-funded investigators about all articles accepted for publication. These journal articles are reviewed by HSR&D and publication briefs or summaries are written for a select number of articles that are then forwarded to VHA Central Office leadership to keep them informed about important findings or information. Articles to be summarized are selected by HSR&D based on timeliness of the findings, interest of leadership, or potential impact on the organization. Publication briefs are written for only a small number of HSR&D published articles. Visit the HSR&D citations database for a complete listing of HSR&D articles and presentations.