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Home-based therapy reduces anxiety and depression, new study shows

Metacognitive Therapy (MCT) can help arrest depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress in heart disease patients even when delivered remotely, a new research trial has found.

The study, which was conducted by Greater Manchester Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust and The University of Manchester, builds on previous research that showed how group-based MCT was effective in reducing anxiety and depression, meaning this latest discovery demonstrates how the NHS can expand patient choice and improve overall health outcomes.

For this latest study, researchers recruited 240 cardiac rehabilitation (CR) patients, assigning 118 to home-based MCT plus standard CR treatment, whilst the other 122 patients were allocated to just CR.

The first cohort of patients were given a self-help manual to supplement their home-MCT as well as phone calls from trained professionals that supported the individuals’ learning and provided opportunities of reflection.

These patients reported significant reductions in anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress symptoms compared to the recruits just receiving CR care alone. Ultimately, these results show that MCT is effective in both therapist-led sessions and at home.

The trial’s Chief Investigator, Professor Adrian Wells, said: “It’s not surprising that people living with or recovering from serious heart problems experience symptoms of anxiety, depression and trauma. They are often recovering from potentially life-limiting conditions and uncertainty which understandably causes distress.

“What’s important is that we recognise this and provide patients with effective, evidence-based treatment options. The results of our trial have shown that home-based MCT can help cardiac patients discover new and more helpful ways to process their distressing thoughts, whether they are undergoing treatment at home or at a clinic.”

Joanne Varker, Cardiac Rehabilitation Specialist Nurse at Royal Bolton Hospital, one of the NHS sites involved in the study, added: “Being involved in the Pathway Study was of great benefit to many of our patients.

“We had never had the option of offering a home-based therapy that could greatly aid our patients' understanding of the psychological issues caused by their heart attack and help their overall recovery. As a team we enjoyed taking part and being able to offer this, and saw many positive outcomes from our patients."

To view all the study’s outcomes, click here.

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NHE May/June 2024

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