Supporting adults with low mood and loneliness using Behavioural Activation in Social IsoLation

Older adults and those with long-term health conditions represent a ‘high risk’ group for the development of depression and low mood. Enforced isolation as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic may lead to disruption of daily routine, loss of social contact and loneliness, which may in turn impact on mental health.

Using a bespoke support package based on Behavioural Activation, the BASIL study is a randomised controlled trial aiming to prevent or mitigate depression and loneliness among older adults with multiple health conditions, during the COVID-19 pandemic. The BASIL study has been classed as an Urgent Public Health study by the UK’s Chief Medical Officers.

Behavioural Activation (BA) is a brief psychological intervention which has been shown to reduce or prevent depression in high risk groups. The intervention has been designed to be delivered over the telephone by a range of health and social care professionals (‘BASIL support workers’) and involves supporting older adults to stay active, basic monitoring of depressive symptoms, and facilitating communication with the older adults’ healthcare team as part of a collaborative care framework.

The BASIL programme of research consists of:

  1. A pilot trial - which has recruited over 90 participants between June – October 2020, has had good engagement with the BA intervention sessions and over 90% follow up rates are proving promising. Qualitative work conducted in the pilot trial will also inform the main trial.

  2. The BASIL main trial will begin in late 2020 and will evaluate the clinical and cost effectiveness of the BASIL intervention. The intervention participants and BASIL support workers will take part in semi-structured interviews to discuss their views and experiences of the study and BASIL intervention. The trial aims to recruit 590 participants, and will be conducted within primary care, secondary care and third sector organisations across the country and devolved nations.

Chief Investigators:

  • Professor Simon Gilbody, Director of the Mental Health & Addiction Research Group (MHARG), University of York

  • Professor David Ekers, Honorary Visiting Professor, MHARG, University of York and Clinical Director of Research and Development, Tees, Esk and Wear Valleys NHS Foundation Trust.

Research team: Dean McMillan, Liz Littlewood, Andrew Henry, Carolyn Chew-Graham, Claire Sloan, Della Bailey, Eloise Ryde, Gemma Traviss-Turner, Han-I Wang, Lauren Burke, Leanne Shearsmith, Megan Russell, Mirza Fazlic, Pete Coventry, Rebecca Woodhouse, Samantha Gascoyne, and Suzanne Crosland.

Keep up to date with BASIL Research on Twitter: @BASIL_Research