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Self-Help Program Ups Mental Health in Rheumatic Disease

WEDNESDAY, July 24 (HealthDay News) -- A cognitive-behavioral, self-help intervention can improve depression and anxiety in patients with rheumatic conditions, according to a study published in the July issue of Arthritis Care & Research.

Nadia Garnefski, Ph.D., from Leiden University in the Netherlands, and colleagues randomized 82 people with a rheumatic disease to a group receiving a self-help program (a cognitive-behavioral program with minimal coaching) or a waiting list control condition group. The depression and anxiety scales of the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale and an adaptation of the Generalized Self-Efficacy Scale were used to assess outcomes.

The researchers found that the symptoms of depression and anxiety were effectively reduced with the self-help program, and coping self-efficacy was strengthened. After a follow-up period of two months the positive effects persisted.

"This cost-effective program could very well be used as a first step in a stepped care approach or as one of the treatment possibilities in a matched care approach," the authors write. "Future studies should also focus on determining which persons benefit most from self-help interventions and under what circumstances."

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