In recent years, the importance of guidelines has increased continuously. This development also occurs in the field of rehabilitative health care, where process guidelines are being designed for various indicational groups to ensure quality standards and improvements.
The primary goal of this paper is to collect and evaluate the evidence for various treatment options for depressive disorders in order to establish a basis for the current development of a process guideline for the rehabilitation of patients with depressive disorders.
In order to identify evidence based treatment elements, first a comprehensive investigation of national and international guidelines was conducted. Thirteen selected guidelines were then assessed with regard to aspects of methodological quality and evidence-based treatment elements. In a further step, literature searches were conducted for residual treatment elements, which were identified on the basis of the Classification of Therapeutic Services (KTL) 2007. For the literature search, a hierarchical approach was chosen: At first, meta-analyses and systematic reviews were viewed. In case when there was still a lack of evidence for specific, potentially relevant treatment elements, the search was expanded to the level of primary studies. All selected reviews and primary studies then underwent a standardized assessment especially regarding methodological quality and evidence grades were allocated to treatments.
Thereby, the following treatment elements with an adequate level of evidence were identified: Psychotherapeutic interventions, marital/couples/family therapy and counselling, inclusion of family members, psycho education and exercise, problem solving therapy, guided self-help, and behavioural activation treatments. On the basis of this complementary literature search, various other evident interventions could be identified within the following areas: relaxation techniques, improvement of social competence, occupational therapy, art therapies (music, movement/dance therapies), body-oriented therapies and massage therapy.
In summary, using this hierarchical approach, it was possible to assign different levels of evidence to the various treatment elements for depression. Based on the results of this literature search, a next step in the development of a process guideline for the rehabilitative treatment of patients with depression will be the integration of experts in the field of rehabilitation.