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Trials. 2011 Jan 21;12:17. doi: 10.1186/1745-6215-12-17.

Does treatment of subsyndromal depression improve depression and diabetes related outcomes: protocol for a randomised controlled comparison of psycho-education, physical exercise and treatment as usual.

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  • 1Team for Mental Health, Vuk Vrhovac University Clinic for Diabetes, Endocrinology and Metabolic Diseases, Merkur Teaching Hospital, University of Zagreb, Zagreb, Croatia.



The prevalence of mood difficulties in persons with diabetes is approximately twice that in the general population, affecting the health outcomes and patients' quality of life in an undesirable way. Although subsyndromal depression is an important predictor of a more serious clinical depression, it is often overlooked. This study aims to compare the effects of two non-pharmacological interventions for subsyndromal depression, psychoeducation and physical exercise, with diabetes treatment as usual on mood- and diabetes-related outcomes.


Type 2 diabetic patients aged 18-65 yrs. who report mood difficulties and the related need for help in a mail survey will be potential participants. After giving informed consent, they will be randomly assigned to one of the three groups (psychoeducation, physical activity, treatment as usual). Depressive symptoms, diabetes distress, health-related quality of life and diabetes self-care activities will be assessed at baseline, at 6 weeks, 6 months and 12 months. A structured clinical interview for DSM-IV Axis I Disorders (SCID-I) will be performed at baseline and at one-year follow-up in order to determine the clinical significance of the patients' depressive symptoms. Disease-related data will be collected from patients' files and from additional physical examinations and laboratory tests.The two interventions will be comparable in terms of format (small group work), duration (six sessions) and approach (interactive learning; supporting the participants' active roles). The group treated as usual will be informed about their screening results and about the importance of treating depression. They will be provided with brief re-education on diabetes and written self-help instructions to cope with mood difficulties.Primary outcomes will be depressive symptoms. Secondary outcomes will be glycaemic control, diabetes-related distress, self-management of diabetes and health-related quality of life. Tertiary outcomes will be biochemical markers reflecting common pathophysiological processes of insulin resistance, inflammation and oxidative damage that are assumed to be intertwined in both diabetes and depression. The mixed-effect linear model will be used to compare the outcome variables.Power analysis has indicated that the two intervention groups and the control group should comprise 59 patients to enable detection of clinically meaningful differences in depressive symptoms with a power of 80% and alpha = 0.05. Outcomes will be analysed on an intention-to-treat basis.



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