(HealthDay News) – Low-intensity interventions are beneficial even for severe depression, with evidence of an interaction between depression severity and treatment effect, according to a meta-analysis published online Feb. 26 in BMJ.

Peter Bower, PhD, of the University of Manchester in the United Kingdom, and colleagues conducted a meta-analysis of data from 2,470 patients with depression from 16 datasets to examine how initial severity of depression affects the benefit from low-intensity intervention (including guided self-help by means of written materials and limited professional support and Internet-delivered interventions).

The researchers found that many of the patients referred for low-intensity interventions had moderate-to-severe depression at baseline. There was a significant interaction between baseline depression severity and treatment effect, indicating a larger treatment effect for patients who were more severely depressed at baseline. The magnitude of the interaction was small (a decrease of about one point on the Beck Depression Inventory for each one standard deviation increase in severity) and the clinical relevance was unclear.

“The data suggest that patients with more severe depression at baseline show at least as much clinical benefit from low-intensity interventions as less severely depressed patients and could usefully be offered these interventions as part of a stepped care model,” the authors write.

One author is employed by GAIA, a company that owns and developed one of the low-intensity interventions considered in this study.

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