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Behavioural activation: history, evidence and promise

  • Jonathan W. Kanter (a1), Ajeng J. Puspitasari (a1), Maria M. Santos (a1) and Gabriela A. Nagy (a1)

Summary

Behavioural activation holds promise to reduce the global burden of depression as a treatment approach that is effective, easy to teach, scalable and acceptable to providers and patients across settings and cultures. This editorial reviews the history of behavioural activation, what it is, current evidence for its use and future directions.

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Copyright

Corresponding author

Jonathan W. Kanter, PO Box 413, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Milwaukee, WI 53201, USA. Email: jkanter@uwm.edu

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Declaration of interest

J.W.K. provides professional training on behavioural activation.

Footnotes

References

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1 World Health Organization. The Global Burden of Disease: 2004 Update. WHO, 2008.
2 Dimidjian, S, Barrera, M Jr, Martell, C, Muñoz, RF, Lewinsohn, PM. The origins and current status of behavioural activation treatments for depression. Annu Rev Clin Psychol 2011; 7: 138.
3 Kanter, JW, Manos, RC, Bowe, WM, Baruch, DE, Busch, AM, Rusch, LC. What is behavioural activation? A review of the empirical literature. Clin Psychol Rev 2010; 30: 608–20.
4 Jacobson, NS, Dobson, KS, Truax, PA, Addis, ME, Koerner, K, Gollan, JK, et al. A component analysis of cognitive behavioural treatment for depression. J Consult Clin Psychol 1996; 64: 295304.
5 Mazzucchelli, T, Kane, R, Rees, C. Behavioural activation treatments for depression in adults: a meta-analysis and review. Clin Psychol Sci Pract 2009; 16: 383411.
6 Dimidjian, S, Hollon, SD, Dobson, KS, Schmaling, KB, Kohlenberg, RJ, Addis, ME, et al. Randomized trial of behavioural activation, cognitive therapy, and antidepressant medication in the acute treatment of adults with major depression. J Consult Clin Psychol 2006; 74: 658–70.
7 Ekers, D, Godfrey, C, Gilbody, S, Parrott, S, Richards, DA, Hammond, D, et al. Cost utility of behavioural activation delivered by the non-specialist. Br J Psychiatry 2011; 199: 510–1.
8 Manos, RC, Kanter, JW, Busch, AM. A critical review of assessment strategies to measure the behavioural activation model of depression. Clin Psychol Rev 2010; 30: 547–61.
9 Dichter, GS, Felder, JN, Petty, C, Bizzell, J, Ernst, M, Smoski, MJ. The effects of psychotherapy on neural responses to rewards in major depression. Biol Psychiatry 2009; 66: 886–97.
10 Rusch, LC, Kanter, JW, Brondino, MJ, Weeks, CE, Bowe, WM. Biomedical stigma reduction programs produce negative but transient effects on a depressed low-income community sample. J Soc Clin Psychol 2010; 29: 1021–31.

Behavioural activation: history, evidence and promise

  • Jonathan W. Kanter (a1), Ajeng J. Puspitasari (a1), Maria M. Santos (a1) and Gabriela A. Nagy (a1)

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