Review: How has cognitive behaviour therapy been adapted for adolescents with comorbid depression and chronic illness? A scoping review

Alice Morey, Maria E. Loades*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article (Academic Journal)peer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Depression becomes increasingly common in adolescence. Around 10%–20% of adolescents have a chronic illness, and they are more likely to experience depression. There is emerging evidence for cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT) interventions to treat depression in adolescents with chronic illnesses, yet no review has been undertaken of how these CBT interventions are delivered in practice. Methods: We conducted a scoping review to summarise how CBT has been delivered in adolescents with chronic illness and depression. We included studies that evaluated CBT aimed at treating depression/depressive symptoms in adolescents with chronic illness. Searches were carried out across Embase and PsycNET. Results: Twelve studies met our inclusion criteria. These included diabetes (n = 3), inflammatory bowel disease (n = 3), polycystic ovary syndrome (n = 2), chronic headache (n = 1), chronic pain (n = 1), chronic fatigue syndrome (n = 1) and Fanconi anaemia (n = 1). Adaptations made to the delivery of CBT included cognitive restructuring of illness-related thoughts, behavioural activation balancing illness-related and enjoyable activities, psychoeducation of the comorbidity and link between the chronic illness and depression, relationship building, skill building and parental or familial involvement. CBT was typically delivered by trained professionals with expertise in working with adolescents, who worked under supervision. Conclusions: CBT for depression is commonly adapted for this population, and the nature of cognitions and behaviours targeted in CBT may typically depend on how the chronic illness presents. There is relatively little evidence to date, and a need for more research into the efficacy and effectiveness of treatments for adolescent depression in this vulnerable population specifically.

Original languageEnglish
JournalChild and Adolescent Mental Health
Early online date20 Sept 2020
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 20 Sept 2020


  • CBT
  • chronic illness
  • depression
  • mood
  • paediatric


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