Telephone-administered psychotherapy for depression in MS patients: Moderating role of social support

Victoria Beckner*, Isa Howard, Lea Vella, David C. Mohr

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

33 Scopus citations


Depression is common in individuals with multiple sclerosis (MS). While psychotherapy is an effective treatment for depression, not all individuals benefit. We examined whether baseline social support might differentially affect treatment outcome in 127 participants with MS and depression randomized to either Telephone-administered Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (T-CBT) or Telephone-administered Emotion-Focused Therapy (T-EFT). We predicted that those with low social support would improve more in T-EFT, since this approach emphasizes the therapeutic relationship, while participants with strong social networks and presumably more emotional resources might fare better in the more structured and demanding T-CBT. We found that both level of received support and satisfaction with that support at baseline did moderate treatment outcome. Individuals with high social support showed a greater reduction in depressive symptoms in the T-CBT as predicted, but participants with low social support showed a similar reduction in both treatments. This suggests that for participants with high social support, CBT may be a more beneficial treatment for depression compared with EFT.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)47-59
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Behavioral Medicine
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 2010


  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
  • Depression
  • Emotion-Focused Therapy
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Social support
  • Treatment outcome

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • General Psychology


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