Brief Behavioral Activation Intervention for Depressive Symptoms: Patient Satisfaction, Acceptability, Engagement, and Treatment Response

Jennifer S. Funderburk, Wilfred R. Pigeon, Robyn L. Shepardson, Stephen A. Maisto

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Depressive symptoms are the most common reason for referral to integrated behavioral health providers in primary care. Although evidence-based brief psychotherapies for depression in primary care exist, treatment duration is a significant barrier to implementation. In this open trial, we examined the patient experience of receiving a brief behavioral activation intervention designed for use in primary care (BA-PC), which comprised 2 30-min appointments and 2 boosters spaced 2-3 weeks apart across 12 weeks, and its impact on depression symptoms. Participants were 22 patients recruited from primary care who reported at least moderate depressive symptoms (score ≥10 on the Patient Health Questionnaire-9 [PHQ-9]). Patient experiences were examined through assessing patient engagement, satisfaction, acceptability, and treatment response. Fidelity of intervention delivery in delivering the BA-PC within a 12-week period was also assessed. Participants reported a high level of satisfaction with and acceptability of the BA-PC intervention, materials, and format. Within-subject t tests revealed a significant reduction in depressive symptoms from baseline at the 12-week assessment, based on PHQ-9 total score, t(21) = 3.80, p = .001. Evidence of fidelity included 81% of patients completing the 2 BA-PC appointments, average appointment lengths of approximately 30 min, and high content fidelity within each appointment. These preliminary findings suggest that overall experience of a brief BA-PC intervention was positive, with high patient satisfaction, patient acceptability, and treatment fidelity as well as positive patient treatment response.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalPsychological Services
StatePublished - Jan 1 2019



  • Behavioral activation
  • Brief treatment
  • Depression
  • Primary care
  • Veterans

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Applied Psychology

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