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Adding facilitated physical activity to standard GP care for depression does not improve symptoms

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Question: Is facilitated physical activity an effective adjunctive treatment for adults presenting to primary care with depression?

Patients: A total of 361 adults, aged 18–69 years, newly presenting to their general physician (GP) with implantable cardioverter defibrillator -10 current depressive episode (based on the clinical interview schedule-revised, and with Beck Depression Inventory (BDI) score ≥14). Exclusions: >4 weeks use of antidepressants to treat the current episode; prior non-response to antidepressants; age ≥70 years; medical contraindications to physical activity; receiving treatment for psychosis, bipolar disorder or major substance misuse; pregnancy or breastfeeding; and inability to complete English language questionnaires.

Setting: Sixty-five general practices, Bristol and Exeter, UK; August 2007 to October 2010.

Intervention: Facilitated physical activity intervention plus usual care compared with usual care alone. The intervention included individually tailored support and encouragement to engage in physical activity delivered via up to three face-to-face sessions and 10 telephone calls with a trained physical activity facilitator over an 8-month period. Usual care for depression could include antidepressants, counselling, referral to ‘exercise on prescription’ schemes or referral to secondary care.

Outcomes: Primary outcome included symptoms of depression at 4 months …

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  • Competing interests None.