Behavioral activation for children and adolescents: a systematic review of progress and promise

F. Martin, Thomas Oliver

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

6 Citations (Scopus)
1 Downloads (Pure)

Abstract

Behavioral activation (BA) effectively treats depression in adults, and shows promise in treating anxiety. Research into its application to children and adolescents is emerging. This review aimed to explore the scope of studies, current evidence of effectiveness and how the intervention has been delivered and adapted, to inform future research. A systematic review was undertaken searching PsycInfo, PubMed including Medline, EMBASE, and Scopus for terms relating to BA and children and adolescents. Two researchers scored abstracts for inclusion. Data extraction was completed by one researcher and checked by another. 19 studies were identified, across 21 published articles. 12 were case studies, with three pre–post pilot designs and four randomized-controlled trials. Case studies found early support for the feasibility and potential effectiveness of BA to address both anxiety and depression. The RCTs reported largely positive outcomes. Meta-analysis of depression scores indicated that BA may be effective; however, high heterogeneity was observed. Sample sizes to date have been small. BA has been delivered by trained therapists, doctoral trainee psychologists, social workers, or psychology graduates. Studies are uniquely in high-income settings. Adaptations include flexibility in content delivery, youth friendly materials, and parental involvement. There is some limited evidence to support BA as effective for young people. Feasibility and acceptability are supported. Fully powered trials are now required, with expansion to delivery in low- and middle-income settings, and detailed consideration of implementation issues that consider culture and environment.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)427-441
Number of pages15
JournalEuropean Child and Adolescent Psychiatry
Volume28
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 23 Feb 2018
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made.

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'Behavioral activation for children and adolescents: a systematic review of progress and promise'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

  • Cite this