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BACKGROUND: Acquired brain injury (ABI) is linked to increased depression risk. Existing therapies for depression in ABI (e.g., cognitive behavioural therapy) have mixed efficacy. Behavioural activation (BA), an intervention that encourages engaging in positively reinforcing activities, shows promise. The primary aims were to assess feasibility, acceptability, and potential efficacy of two 8-week BA groups. METHODS: Adults (≥ 18 years) recruited from local ABI services, charities, and self-referral via social media were randomised to condition. The Activity Planning group (AP; "traditional" BA) trained participants to plan reinforcing activities over 8 weeks. The Activity Engagement group (AE; "experiential" BA) encouraged engagement in positive activities within session only. Both BA groups were compared to an 8-week Waitlist group (WL). The primary outcomes, feasibility and acceptability, were assessed via recruitment, retention, attendance, and qualitative feedback on groups. The secondary outcome, potential efficacy, was assessed via blinded assessments of self-reported activity levels, depression, and anxiety (at pre- and post-intervention and 1 month follow-up) and were compared across trial arms. Data were collected in-person and remotely due to COVID-19. RESULTS: N = 60 participants were randomised to AP (randomised n = 22; total n = 29), AE (randomised n = 22; total n = 28), or re-randomised following WL (total n = 16). Whether in-person or remote, AP and AE were rated as similarly enjoyable and helpful. In exploring efficacy, 58.33% of AP members had clinically meaningful activity level improvements, relative to 50% AE and 38.5% WL. Both AP and AE groups had depression reductions relative to WL, but only AP participants demonstrated anxiety reductions relative to AE and WL. AP participants noted benefits of learning strategies to increase activities and learning from other group members. AE participants valued social discussion and choice in selecting in-session activities. CONCLUSIONS: Both in-person and remote group BA were feasible and acceptable in ABI. Though both traditional and experiential BA may be effective, these may have different mechanisms. TRIAL REGISTRATION:, NCT03874650. Protocol version 2.3, May 26 2020.

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Acquired brain injury, Depression, Executive function, Feasibility trial, Neuropsychological rehabilitation, Randomised trial, Traumatic brain injury, Adult, Humans, Acer, Brain Injuries, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Feasibility Studies, Personal Satisfaction, Pilot Projects