Longitudinal assessment of psychotherapeutic day hospital treatment for elderly patients with depression




Although previous studies suggested that psychiatric day hospital care is a valuable alternative to inpatient treatment, its effectiveness for elderly patients is disputed. Small number of cases, poor definition of the psychotherapeutic setting, and absence of systematic assessment at different time points may explain the observed discrepancies. We performed an assessment of a psychiatric day hospital treatment combining individual and group psychotherapy in a series of 122 elderly depressed outpatients.


The Geriatric Depression Scale, Short Form Survey, as well as a Therapeutic Community Assessment Scale and Group Evaluation Scale were repeated at admission, 3, 6, 12 months and discharge. The day hospital program was based on psychotherapeutic treatment combining individual and group settings. All patients presented with major depression or a depressive episode of bipolar disease. Variables included severity of depressive symptoms, quality of life, adhesion to therapeutic community treatment and progress in groups of psychotherapy, art-therapy, and psychomotricity.


There was a significant reduction of depressive symptoms, and improvement in mental quality of life across all time points studied. Adhesion to therapeutic community increased from admission to discharge. This was also the case for the progress in group therapy for all three groups used, yet the evolution of this parameter at intermediate time points was highly variable. Neither demographic characteristics, nor pharmacological treatment or presence of stressful life events predicted the clinical improvement.


Psychotherapeutic care program in day hospitals may improve clinical status and quality of life in elderly depressed patients. Copyright © 2008 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.