BACKGROUND ː Occupational therapists, as part of the multi-disciplinary psychiatric team, regularly include activities and or discussion groups to reduce symptoms of patients with major depressive disorders (MDD), and to improve their functional ability. This study set out to compare two occupational therapy group programs. A Standard Care Plus (SCO) program, which includes tangible activities in each of the nine group sessions, was compared with the usual Standard Care (SCN) program, which excludes tangible activities in four of the nine group sessions.
METHODS ː A comparative two-group parallel-study design was employed. One hundred participants, 50 from each occupational therapy group program, were pre- and post-treatment tested by means of the Patient Health Questionnaire (PHQ-9). The study took place at the psychiatric wards of two private general hospitals in South Africa.
RESULTS ː The SCO had a significant improved total outcome (P<0.0071) compared to the SCN. Five items measured in the SCO, showed a statistically significant improvement. These items were the following: interest or pleasure in doing things (P<0.0145), trouble falling or staying asleep, or sleeping too much (P<0.0103), feeling tired or having little energy (P<0.0365), moving or speaking slowly or fidgeting and/or restless (P<0.0114) and thoughts that you would be better off dead, or of hurting yourself (P<0.0123).
CONCLUSIONS ː The results indicated that the SCO, which included tangible activities in every occupational therapy group session in the treatment of patients with MDD, was superior to the SCN which excluded tangible activities in four of the nine group sessions.