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Investigative Ophthalmology and Visual Science


Geisel School of Medicine


Purpose: The purpose of this study was to compare two interventions for depression, problem solving treatment (PST) and referral to the patient's physician, with a waiting-list control group in people with sight loss and depressive symptoms.

Methods: This was an assessor-masked, exploratory, multicenter, randomized clinical trial, with concurrent economic analysis. Of 1008 consecutive attendees at 14 low-vision rehabilitation centers in Britain, 43% (n = 430) screened positive for depressive symptoms on the Geriatric Depression Scale and 85 of these attendees participated in the trial. Eligible participants were randomized in the ratio 1:1:1 to PST, referral to their physician, or a waiting-list control arm. PST is a manualized talking intervention delivered by a trained therapist who teaches people over six to eight sessions to implement a seven-step method for solving their problems. Referral to the physician involved sending a referral letter to the person's physician, encouraging him or her to consider treatment according to the stepped care protocol recommended by the U.K.'s National Institute of Health and Care Excellence. The primary outcome was change in depressive symptoms (6 months after baseline) as determined by the Beck Depression Inventory.

Results: At 6 months, Beck Depression Inventory scores reduced by 1.05 (SD 8.85), 2.11 (SD 7.60), and 2.68 (SD 7.93) in the waiting-list control, referral, and PST arms, respectively. The cost per patient of the PST intervention was £1176 in Wales and £1296 in London.

Conclusions: Depressive symptoms improved most in the PST group and least in the control group. However, the change was small and the uncertainty of the measurements relatively large.



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