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Project title: Understanding and preventing relapse after CBT

Primary supervisor: Dr Jaime Delgadillo

Co-supervisor/s: Dr Steven Kellett

Project description: Cognitive and behavioural interventions can be helpful for depression and anxiety problems. However, it is also known that as many as 50% of patients experience a relapse within 2 years of treatment. Some conditions, like depression and obsessive compulsive disorder are especially relapse prone. Given the importance of ensuring that patients remain well after treatment, a number of studies have emerged in support of strategies such as pharmacotherapy combined with CBT, booster sessions, continuation-phase CBT and mindfulness based interventions. Although such relapse prevention interventions seem promising, some patients relapse despite receiving ongoing support with these approaches. Conversely, some patients actually remain well after brief and low intensity CBT. We still know relatively little about why some patients are more or less relapse prone. Identifying factors that influence the risk of relapse might help us to enhance the durability of acute-phase treatment effects and to make best use of more intensive relapse prevention strategies (i.e., continuation-phase interventions).

This research programme has two linked objectives. The first objective is to integrate research evidence on factors associated with relapse after CBT, through a systematic review of the literature. This literature review will help to generate hypotheses about factors that may be associated with vulnerability to relapse. The second objective is to test these hypotheses empirically, by collecting and analysing data in collaboration with routine care services that offer CBT.


Formal enquiries should be addressed to: Dr Jaime Delgadillo (j.delgadillo@sheffield.ac.uk) or Dr Steven Kellett (s.kellett@sheffield.ac.uk)

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