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PenPIG member contributes to study looking at effectiveness of treatments for depression

Posted on September 27th 2016

A recent study showing a simple and inexpensive therapy to be equally effective at treating depression as Cognitive Behavioural Therapy was supported by PenCLAHRC Patient Involvement Group (PenPIG) member Nigel Reed.

Nigel formed part of the COBRA team – one of the largest studies in the world to assess treatments of depression through a randomised controlled clinical trial of two psychological interventions; Behavioural Activation (BA) and Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT).

The study led by researchers from the University of Exeter, included colleagues from the Universities of York, Kings College London, and Tees Esk and Wear Valleys NHS Foundation Trust, as well as Nigel. The team worked with primary care and psychological therapy services to investigate the clinical efficacy and cost-effectiveness of CBT and BA for the treatment of adults with depression.

Whilst BA focuses on helping people to change the way they act, CBT involves therapists challenging the way a person with depression thinks. Both are psychological treatments recommended by guidelines for the treatment of depression. Whilst, CBT is the best-evidenced therapy, it is more complex and costly to provide compared to the simpler BA treatment.

The COBRA study compared two groups of participants. One group received CBT, whilst the other received BA. Results showed both BA and CBT were equally effective, with around two-thirds of participants in both groups reporting at least a 50% reduction in depressive symptoms, whilst cost of delivery for BA therapy was found to be around 20% cheaper than CBT - BA is a relatively simple treatment and can be delivered by more junior staff with less training.

Nigel was an active member of the Trial Management Group for COBRA and was fully engaged in decision making for the study.  He worked to ensure that the research could be easily understood and effectively communicated, and was influential in discussions over how best to recruit and retain participants in the trial.

Of his contribution to the COBRA study, Nigel said:

“PenCLAHRC is enabling members of the public, who have no specialist knowledge, to make significant contributions to important areas of medical research. It does this by providing training, encouragement and support through PenPIG, its user involvement group. My involvement in COBRA, which led me to being one of the named authors on the recently published Lancet paper, shows how this can work.”

PenPIG is made up of volunteers who give up their time to ensure that PenCLAHRC’s research is relevant to the needs of the public. The group contribute to our work by advising on projects, being co-applicants on funding bids, presenting at conferences, assisting in the recruitment of new staff and by helping to train new medical students.

Dr Kristin Liabo, who leads the PenCLAHRC Patient and Public Involvement team said:

“Nigel’s involvement in the COBRA trial is an excellent example of a member of the public using the skills acquired as a member of PenPIG to influence large and important world-leading research. We are proud of Nigel’s contribution to COBRA and this shows how members of the public can influence a broad range of medical research.”

To read about the project in more detail, please visit the COBRA trail project page.

To learn more about PenPIG and public and patient involvement in PenCLAHRC research, please visit the PPI webpage.

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