Initially, 1,262 patients were screened for participation in the study. The researchers enrolled 140 patients in the intervention group and 159 patients in the control group. On average, participants scored in the clinically severe range on a scale of depression symptoms and nearly half (45.8%) had a past 12-month depressive disorder.
On the depression-symptom instrument used in the study, at three months patients receiving the intervention generally had mild symptoms and patients receiving usual care alone generally had moderate symptoms. At three months, 55.8 percent of patients in the BRIGHT group had minimal symptoms, compared with 33.6 percent in the control group; at six months, these numbers increased to 63.9 percent and 43.8 percent, respectively. Among patients no longer living in a treatment center at the six-month mark, those in the intervention group had fewer days of problem substance abuse and fewer drinking days than did those in the usual care group.
With the study, the authors hope to address a gap in the substance abuse treatment system, particularly in the public sector. They note that the BRIGHT intervention involved substance abuse counselors, as opposed to other mental health professionals and resources that some substance abuse programs cannot access. “The study demonstrates that it is possible to develop the capacity of substance abuse programs to deliver evidence-based mental health care by enhancing the skills and expanding the clinical roles of substance abuse counselors,” the researchers state. This is important, they add, because “Lack of access to efficacious depression treatment for substance abusers is an important public health problem.”
1. J. Gilmore et al. An Effectiveness Trial of Group Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Patients With Persistent Depressive Symptoms in Substance Abuse Treatment. Archives of General Psychiatry, 2011; 68 (6): 577 DOI: 10.1001/archgenpsychiatry.2011.53