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Home > Effects of behavioural activation on substance use and depression: a systematic review.

Martínez-Vispo, Carmela and Martínez, Úrsula and López-Durán, Ana and Fernández Del Río, Elena and Becoña, Elisardo (2018) Effects of behavioural activation on substance use and depression: a systematic review. Substance Abuse Treatment, Prevention, and Policy, 13, (1), p. 36.

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Substance use and depression co-occurrence is a frequent phenomenon and an important public health concern. Given the clinical implications and the high prevalence of both disorders, effective interventions are needed.

Methods: The aim of this study is to review Behavioural Activation (BA) intervention effects to improve substance use behaviour and depression. A systematic review was conducted using MEDLINE, EMBASE, and PsycINFO. The Effective Public Health Practice Project Quality Assessment Tool (EPHPP) was used to assess the methodological quality of included studies. Two authors independently screened titles and abstracts, reviewed selected studies, and extracted data.

Results: Of the 7286 studies identified, eight met inclusion criteria. Designs of the studies included six randomized controlled trials (RCTs), and two pre-post design studies. One trial received weak methodological quality, six moderate, and one strong. Three studies addressed smoking behaviour; two targeted opiate dependence; two focused on alcohol/drug dependence; and, one on crystal methamphetamine abuse. Results showed that BA had a positive effect on substance use outcomes in seven of the eight reviewed studies, and improved depression over time in six studies.

Conclusions: Although studies conducted so far are limited by their heterogeneity and sample sizes, results are promising. There is a need of well controlled and powered studies to establish and to confirm the effectiveness of BA for the treatment of substance use and depression. Future studies should include stronger methodological designs, larger sample sizes, and long-term follow-ups.

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