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Wait List Control Groups in Depression Research: Scientific Rigor meets Ethical Dilemma

26 July 2002


Wait-list control groups present a problem to today's researchers, being considered a methodological necessity while simultaneously being considered an ethical gray area. The present study attempts to provide an alternative to the wait-list control dilemma that satisfies both the rigors of science and the necessary ethical treatment of human subjects. Effect sizes were established for wait-list control groups in depression outcome studies that employed empirically validated psychotherapy interventions by analyzing data from 11 studies and 148 subjects in an attempt to establish control group improvement or deterioration. Data analysis established that subjects in wait-list control groups tend to improve (ES = .81) and that variables such as severity of depression, duration of delay, and co-morbidity in diagnosis have some influence on the outcome of these subjects


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