Preventing depression in older people with multimorbidity: 24-month follow-up of a trial of internet-delivered cognitive behaviour therapy

Jennifer R. Read*, Louise Sharpe, Amy L. Burton, Patricia A. Areán, Patrick J. Raue, Sarah McDonald, Nickolai Titov, Milena Gandy, Blake F. Dear

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    3 Citations (Scopus)


    Background: older people coping with the impacts of living with multimorbidity are at increased risk of developing a depressive disorder. 

    Objective: this article reports the 24-month results of a randomised controlled trial of an internet-delivered cognitive behaviour therapy, which aimed to test whether depressive disorders could be prevented in this population.

    Participants: community-based participants aged 65 years and over, who had two or more chronic physical health conditions and were assessed as having no current depressive disorder. 

    Methods: in total, 302 participants were randomised to an 8-week, five-lesson, internet-delivered intervention program (n = 150) or treatment as usual (TAU, n = 152). The primary outcomes were cases of depressive disorder, assessed post-intervention and at 3-month intervals throughout the trial, and depressive symptoms, assessed at pre-intervention, post-intervention, 6, 12 and 24 months following the intervention. 

    Results: there were significantly fewer cases of depressive disorder in the intervention group (n = 23, 15%) compared with the TAU group (n = 41, 27%) during the 24 months after the intervention (χ2(1, N = 302) = 6.13, P = 0.013, odds ratio = 0.490 [95% confidence interval: 0.277, 0.867]), representing a 44% reduction in cases of depressive disorder. No differences were found on depressive symptoms at 24-month follow-up. Internet-delivered cognitive behaviour therapy had high engagement and acceptability. 

    Conclusions: the results provide support that depressive disorders can be prevented in older people with multimorbidity through participation in internet-delivered cognitive behaviour therapy. With access to internet-delivered interventions in clinical care settings increasing, this has implications for older patient care where multimorbidity is extremely common.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)2254-2258
    Number of pages5
    JournalAge and Ageing
    Issue number6
    Publication statusPublished - Nov 2021


    • depression
    • internet
    • multimorbidity
    • older people
    • prevention
    • psychotherapy


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