A pilot trial of acceptance and commitment therapy for symptoms of depression and anxiety in older adults residing in long-term care facilities

Tanya E. Davison, Barbara Eppingstall, Susannah Runci, Daniel W. O'Connor

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

30 Citations (Scopus)


Objectives: The aim of this study was to evaluate the efficacy and acceptability of a psychological intervention based on acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) to improve symptoms of depression and anxiety among older adults living in long-term care. Method: Forty one residents aged between 63 and 97 years (M = 85.3 years) participated in this study. Residents were allocated to receive either a 12 session ACT intervention implemented by trainee psychology therapists or a wait-list control group. Measures of depression and anxiety were collected at baseline and 8 week post-intervention, and residents who received the intervention were tracked for three months. A treatment satisfaction questionnaire was administered to residents who received the intervention and a sample of 10 facility staff members. Results: Using an intention to treat approach and controlling for baseline scores, scores on depression measures were significantly lower after the ACT intervention than after the wait-list control. These outcomes were maintained at three-month follow-up. Treatment satisfaction was rated highly by both residents and their care staff. Conclusion: This preliminary trial suggests that ACT shows promise as a therapeutic approach to address symptoms of depression in long-term care.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)766-773
Number of pages8
JournalAging & Mental Health
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 3 Jul 2017


  • Acceptance and commitmenttherapy
  • depression
  • anxiety
  • long-term care
  • psychotherapy

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