Individual differences in response to once versus twice weekly sessions of CBT and IPT for depression

S.J.E. Bruijniks, S.C. van Bronswijk, R.J. DeRubeis, J. Delgadillo, P. Cuijpers, M.J.H. Huibers

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Objective: The Personalized Advantage Index (PAI) is a method to guide treatment selection by investigating which of two or more treatments is optimal for a given individual. Recently, it was shown that, on average, twice-weekly sessions of psychotherapy for depression lead to better outcomes compared to once-weekly sessions. The present study applied the PAI method to assess if subgroups of patients may have a differential response to psychotherapy frequency. Method: Data came from a clinical trial (n = 200) randomizing depressed patients into different session frequencies: weekly sessions versus twice-weekly sessions. Machine-learning techniques were used to select pretreatment variables and develop a multivariable prediction model that calculated each patient’s PAI. Differences in observed depression post-treatment scores (Beck Depression Inventory-II [BDI-II]) were tested between patients that received their PAIindicated versus non-indicated session frequency. Between-group effect sizes (Cohen’s d) were reported. Results: We identified prognostic indicators generally associated with lower post-treatment BDI-II regardless of treatment assignment. In addition, we identified specific demographic and psychometric features associated with differential response to weekly-versus twice-weekly therapy sessions. Observed post-treatment BDI-II scores were significantly different between individuals receiving the PAI-indicated versus non-indicated session frequency (d =.37). Conclusions: Although a higher session frequency is more effective on average, different session frequencies seem beneficial for different patients. Future studies should externally validate these findings before they can be generalized to other settings.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5-17
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2022
Externally publishedYes


  • Cbt
  • Depression
  • Ipt
  • Personalized advantage index
  • Session frequency


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