BE-ACTIV for depression in nursing homes: Primary outcomes of a randomized clinical trial

Suzanne Meeks, Kimberly Van Haitsma, Ben Schoenbachler, Stephen W. Looney

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

54 Scopus citations


Objectives. To report the primary outcomes of a cluster randomized clinical trial of Behavioral Activities Intervention (BE-ACTIV), a behavioral intervention for depression in nursing homes. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of The Gerontological Society of America. All rights reserved. For permissions, please e-mail: [email protected]. Method. Twenty-three nursing homes randomized to BE-ACTIV or treatment as usual (TAU); 82 depressed long-term care residents recruited from these nursing homes. BE-ACTIV participants received 10 weeks of individual therapy after a 2-week baseline. TAU participants received weekly research visits. Follow-up assessments occurred at 3- and 6-month posttreatment. Results. BE-ACTIV group participants showed better diagnostic recovery at posttreatment in intent-to-treat analyses adjusted for clustering. They were more likely to be remitted than TAU participants at posttreatment and at 3-month posttreatment but not at 6 months. Self-reported depressive symptoms and functioning improved in both groups, but there were no significant treatment by time interactions in these variables. Discussion. BE-ACTIV was superior to TAU in moving residents to full remission from depression. The treatment was well received by nursing home staff and accepted by residents. A large proportion of participants remained symptomatic at posttreatment, despite taking one or more antidepressants. The results illustrate the potential power of an attentional intervention to improve self-reported mood and functioning, but also the difficulties related to both studying and implementing effective treatments in nursing homes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)13-23
Number of pages11
JournalJournals of Gerontology - Series B Psychological Sciences and Social Sciences
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2015

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Health(social science)
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Life-span and Life-course Studies


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