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Pilot Feasibility Stud. 2019 Apr 27;5:63. doi: 10.1186/s40814-019-0438-1. eCollection 2019.

Evaluating Augmented Depression Therapy (ADepT): study protocol for a pilot randomised controlled trial.

Author information

1Mood Disorders Centre, University of Exeter, Exeter, UK.
2College of Medicine and Health, University of Exeter, Exeter, UK.
3Faculty of Psychology and Neuroscience, Maastricht University, Maastricht, Netherlands.
4Department of Clinical Psychological Science, Faculty of Psychology and Neuroscience, Maastricht University, Maastricht, Netherlands.
5School of Psychology, The University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia.
6Department of Psychology, Royal Holloway University of London, London, UK.
7Department of Psychiatry, University of Oxford, Oxford, UK.



While existing psychological treatments for depression are effective for many, a significant proportion of depressed individuals do not respond to current approaches and few remain well over the long-term. Anhedonia (a loss of interest or pleasure) is a core symptom of depression which predicts a poor prognosis but has been neglected by existing treatments. Augmented Depression Therapy (ADepT) has been co-designed with service users to better target anhedonia alongside other features of depression. This mixed methods pilot trial aims to establish proof of concept for ADepT and to examine the feasibility and acceptability of a future definitive trial evaluating the clinical and cost-effectiveness of ADepT, compared to an evidence-based mainstream therapy (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy; CBT) in the acute treatment of depression, the prevention of subsequent depressive relapse, and the enhancement of wellbeing.


We aim to recruit 80 depressed participants and randomise them 1:1 to receive ADepT (15 weekly acute and 5 booster sessions in following year) or CBT (20 weekly acute sessions). Clinical and health economic assessments will take place at intake and at 6-, 12-, and 18-month follow-up. Reductions in PHQ-9 depression severity and increases in WEMWBS wellbeing at 6-month assessment (when acute treatment should be completed) are the co-primary outcomes. Quantitative and qualitative process evaluation will assess mechanism of action, implementation issues, and contextual moderating factors. To evaluate proof of concept, intake-post effect sizes and the proportion of individuals showing reliable and clinically significant change on outcome measures in each arm at each follow-up will be reported. To evaluate feasibility and acceptability, we will examine recruitment, retention, treatment completion, and data completeness rates and feedback from patients and therapists about their experience of study participation and therapy. Additionally, we will establish the cost of delivery of ADepT.


We will proceed to definitive trial if any concerns about the safety, acceptability, feasibility, and proof of concept of ADepT and trial procedures can be rectified, and we recruit, retain, and collect follow-up data on at least 60% of the target sample.

Trial registration:

ISCRTN85278228, registered 27/03/2017.


Augmented Depression Therapy; Cognitive Behavioural therapy; Feasibility study; Major depressive disorder; Mixed methods; Pilot study

Conflict of interest statement

Ethical Approval has been granted by the U.K. National Research Ethics Service, South West – Cornwall and Plymouth meeting. The study will be conducted in accordance with the Declaration of Helsinki [112]. Informed consent will be obtained following a multi-stage process. Participants will first give permission for the research team to contact them to discuss the study. Following this, informed consent will be taken in person by a study researcher (EW) prior to the baseline eligibility and assessment interview. Potential participants will receive full information about the study in advance of the interview, and at the point of consent there will be further opportunity to discuss the study and for the participant to raise any questions. Researchers will be fully trained in taking informed consent, including assessment of capacity to consent where appropriate. Consent will be taken only from individuals with capacity to make an informed decision on their participation.Not applicable.The authors declare that they have no competing interests.Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.

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