Selected Article


Contradictory effects for prevention of depression and anxiety in residents in homes for the elderly: a pragmatic randomized controlled trial.


The aim of this study was to evaluate the effectiveness of a stepped-care program to prevent the onset of depression and anxiety disorders in elderly people living in residential homes. A pragmatic randomized controlled trial was conducted to compare the intervention with usual care in 14 residential homes in the Netherlands. A total of 185 residents with a minimum score of 8 on the Centre for Epidemiologic Studies Depression Scale, who did not meet the diagnostic criteria for a depressive or anxiety disorder, and were not suffering from severe cognitive impairment, were recruited between April 2007 and December 2008. They were randomized to a stepped-care program (N = 93) or to usual care (N = 92). The stepped-care participants sequentially underwent watchful waiting, a self-help intervention, life review, and a consultation with the general practitioner. The primary outcome measure was the incidence of a major depressive disorder (MDD) or anxiety disorder during a period of one year according to the Mini International Neuropsychiatric Interview. The intervention was not effective in reducing the incidence of the combined outcome of depression and anxiety (incidence rate ratio (IRR) = 0.50; 95{\%} confidence interval (CI) = 0.23-1.12). However, the intervention was superior to usual care in reducing the risk of MDD incidence (IRR = 0.26; 95{\%} CI = 0.12-0.80) contrary to anxiety incidence (IRR = 1.32; 95{\%} CI = 0.48-3.62). These results suggest that the stepped-care program is effective in reducing the incidence of depression, but is not effective in preventing the onset of anxiety disorders in elderly people living in residential homes.