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Cognitive-reminiscence therapy and usual care for depression in young adults: study protocol for a randomized controlled trial

David J Hallford* and David Mellor

Author Affiliations

School of Psychology, Deakin University, 221 Burwood Hwy, Burwood, VIC 3125, Australia

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Trials 2013, 14:343  doi:10.1186/1745-6215-14-343

Published: 21 October 2013



Depression is a common affliction for young adults, and is associated with a range of adverse outcomes. Cognitive-reminiscence therapy is a brief, structured intervention that has been shown to be highly effective for reducing depressive symptoms, yet to date has not been evaluated in young adult populations. Given its basis in theory-guided reminiscence-based therapy, and incorporation of effective therapeutic techniques drawn from cognitive therapy and problem-solving frameworks, it is hypothesized to be effective in treating depression in this age group.

Methods and design

This article presents the design of a randomized controlled trial implemented in a community-based youth mental health service to compare cognitive-reminiscence therapy with usual care for the treatment of depressive symptoms in young adults. Participants in the cognitive-reminiscence group will receive six sessions of weekly, individual psychotherapy, whilst participants in the usual-care group will receive support from the youth mental health service according to usual procedures. A between-within repeated-measures design will be used to evaluate changes in self-reported outcome measures of depressive symptoms, psychological wellbeing and anxiety across baseline, three weeks into the intervention, post-intervention, one month post-intervention and three months post-intervention. Interviews will also be conducted with participants from the cognitive-reminiscence group to collect information about their experience receiving the intervention, and the process underlying any changes that occur.


This study will determine whether a therapeutic approach to depression that has been shown to be effective in older adult populations is also effective for young adults. The expected outcome of this study is the validation of a brief, evidence-based, manualized treatment for young adults with depressive symptoms.

Trial registration

Australian New Zealand Clinical Trials Registry ACTRN12613000084785.

Cognitive-reminiscence therapy; Depression; Reminiscence therapy; Young adults