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The treatment of depression in patients with somatic disorders is crucial, given its negative impact on quality of life (QoL), functioning, and even on the somatic disease prognosis. We aimed to examine the most updated evidence on the effects of psychotherapy in patients with depression and somatic disorders, including HIV, oncological, cardiometabolic, and neurological disorders.
We conducted a meta-analysis of 75 randomized trials (8209 participants) of psychotherapy for adults with somatic disorders and a diagnosis or elevated symptoms of depression. Outcomes included depression, QoL, somatic health-related outcomes, and mortality.
Psychotherapy significantly reduced the severity of depression at post-treatment across all categories of somatic disorders (Hedges'g = 0.65; 95% CI 0.52–0.79), with sustained effects at 6–11 months (g = 0.38; 95% CI 0.22–0.53) and at 12 months follow-up or longer (g = 0.13; 95% CI 0.04–0.21). Psychotherapy also showed significant effects on QoL (g = 0.26; 95% CI 0.17–0.35), maintained up to 11 months follow-up (g = 0.25; 95% CI 0.16–0.34). No significant effects were observed on the most frequently reported somatic health-related outcomes (glycemic control, pain), and neither on mortality. Heterogeneity in most analyses was very high, and only 29 (38%) trials were rated at low risk of bias (RoB).
Psychotherapy may be an effective treatment option for patients with depression and somatic disorders, with long-term effects on depression severity and QoL. However, these results should be interpreted with caution due to heterogeneity and RoB.
Depression during pregnancy and after the birth of a child is highly prevalent and an important public health problem. Psychological interventions are the first-line treatment and, although a considerable number of randomized trials have been conducted, no recent comprehensive meta-analysis has evaluated treatment effects.
We used an existing database of randomized controlled trials of psychotherapies for adult depression and included studies aimed at perinatal depression. Random effects models were used in all analyses. We examined the effects of the interventions in the short and long term, and also examined secondary outcomes.
Forty-three studies with 49 comparisons and 6270 participants between an intervention and control group were included. The overall effect size was g = 0.67 [95% confidence interval (CI) 0.45~0.89; numbers needed-to-be-treated = 4.39] with high heterogeneity (I2 = 80%; 95% CI 75~85). This effect size remained largely unchanged and significant in a series of sensitivity analyses, although some publication bias was found. The effects remained significant at 6–12 months follow-up. Significant effects were also found for social support, anxiety, functional limitations, parental stress and marital stress, although the number of studies for each outcome was low. All results should be considered with caution because of the high levels of heterogeneity in most analyses.
Psychological interventions are probably effective in the treatment of perinatal depression, with effects that last at least up to 6–12 months and probably also have effects on social support, anxiety, functional impairment, parental stress, and marital stress.
Psychotherapies are the treatment of choice for panic disorder, but which should be considered as first-line treatment is yet to be substantiated by evidence.
To examine the most effective and accepted psychotherapy for the acute phase of panic disorder with or without agoraphobia via a network meta-analysis.
We conducted a systematic review and network meta-analysis of randomised controlled trials (RCTs) to examine the most effective and accepted psychotherapy for the acute phase of panic disorder. We searched MEDLINE, Embase, PsycInfo and CENTRAL, from inception to 1 Jan 2021 for RCTs. Cochrane and PRISMA guidelines were used. Pairwise and network meta-analyses were conducted using a random-effects model. Confidence in the evidence was assessed using Confidence in Network Meta-Analysis (CINeMA). The protocol was published in a peer-reviewed journal and in PROSPERO (CRD42020206258).
We included 136 RCTs in the systematic review. Taking into consideration efficacy (7352 participants), acceptability (6862 participants) and the CINeMA confidence in evidence appraisal, the best interventions in comparison with treatment as usual (TAU) were cognitive–behavioural therapy (CBT) (for efficacy: standardised mean differences s.m.d. = −0.67, 95% CI −0.95 to −0.39; CINeMA: moderate; for acceptability: relative risk RR = 1.21, 95% CI −0.94 to 1.56; CINeMA: moderate) and short-term psychodynamic therapy (for efficacy: s.m.d. = −0.61, 95% CI −1.15 to −0.07; CINeMA: low; for acceptability: RR = 0.92, 95% CI 0.54–1.54; CINeMA: moderate). After removing RCTs at high risk of bias only CBT remained more efficacious than TAU.
CBT and short-term psychodynamic therapy are reasonable first-line choices. Studies with high risk of bias tend to inflate the overall efficacy of treatments. Results from this systematic review and network meta-analysis should inform clinicians and guidelines.
Digital interventions for anxiety disorders are a promising solution to address barriers to evidence-based treatment access. Precise and powerful estimates of digital intervention effectiveness for anxiety disorders are necessary for further adoption in practice. The present systematic review and meta-analysis examined the effectiveness of digital interventions across all anxiety disorders and specific to each disorder v. wait-list and care-as-usual controls.
A systematic search of bibliographic databases identified 15 030 abstracts from inception to 1 January 2020. Forty-seven randomized controlled trials (53 comparisons; 4958 participants) contributed to the meta-analysis. Subgroup analyses were conducted by an anxiety disorder, risk of bias, treatment support, recruitment, location and treatment adherence.
A large, pooled effect size of g = 0.80 [95% Confidence Interval: 0.68–0.93] was found in favor of digital interventions. Moderate to large pooled effect sizes favoring digital interventions were found for generalized anxiety disorder (g = 0.62), mixed anxiety samples (g = 0.68), panic disorder with or without agoraphobia (g = 1.08) and social anxiety disorder (g = 0.76) subgroups. No subgroups were significantly different or related to the pooled effect size. Notably, the effects of guided interventions (g = 0.84) and unguided interventions (g = 0.64) were not significantly different. Supplemental analysis comparing digital and face-to-face interventions (9 comparisons; 683 participants) found no significant difference in effect [g = 0.14 favoring digital interventions; Confidence Interval: −0.01 to 0.30].
The precise and powerful estimates found further justify the application of digital interventions for anxiety disorders in place of wait-list or usual care.
Depression is a prevalent and impairing condition. Behavioral activation (BA) is a parsimonious, cost-effective, and easily disseminated psychological intervention for depression. The current meta-analysis expands on the existing literature supporting the efficacy of BA for depression by examining the effects of BA on additional relevant outcomes for patients with depression, namely the reduction in anxiety symptoms and increase in activation.
Randomized controlled trials of BA for depression compared to active and inactive control were identified via a systematic review. Effect sizes using Hedges's g were calculated for each outcome compared to both active and inactive control using random effects models. Subgroup analyses were used to examine the inclusion of a discussion of values as a moderator of depression symptom outcome in BA.
Twenty-eight studies were included. Meta-analyses of symptom change between groups from baseline-to-post intervention indicated that BA outperformed inactive control conditions for improvements in depression (g = 0.83), anxiety (g = 0.37), and activation (g = 0.64). The difference between BA and active control conditions was not significant for improvements in depression (g = 0.15), anxiety (g = 0.03), and activation (g = 0.04). There was no evidence for a discussion of values augmenting BA efficacy. Study quality was generally low, and there was evidence of publication bias.
In addition to improving depression, BA shows efficacy for reducing symptoms of anxiety and increasing activation. BA may not offer better outcomes relative to other active interventions. There is room for improvement in the quality of research in this area.
Problem-solving therapy (PST) is one of the best examined types of psychotherapy for adult depression. No recent meta-analysis has examined the effects of PST compared to control groups or to other treatments. We wanted to verify whether PST is effective, whether effects are comparable to those of other treatments, and whether we could identify the possible sources of high heterogeneity that was found in earlier meta-analyses.
We conducted systematic searches in bibliographical databases, including PubMed, PsycInfo, Embase and the Cochrane database of randomized trials.
We included 30 randomized controlled trials on PST (with 3530 patients), in which PST was compared to control conditions, with other therapies, and with pharmacotherapy. We could compare these 30 trials on PST also with 259 trials on other psychotherapies for adult depression. The effect size of PST versus control groups was g = 0.79 (0.57–1.01) with very high heterogeneity (I2 = 84; 95% CI: 77–88). The effect size from the 9 studies with low risk of bias was g = 0.34 (95% CI: 0.22–0.46) with low heterogeneity (I2 = 32; 95% CI: 0–68), which is comparable to the effects of other psychotherapies. PST was a little more effective than other therapies in direct comparisons, but that may be explained by the considerable number of studies with researcher allegiance towards PST. In meta-regression analyses of all controlled studies, no significant difference between PST and other therapies was found.
PST is probably an effective treatment for depression, with effect sizes that are small, but comparable to those found for other psychological treatments of depression.
Care-as-usual (CAU) is often used as a control condition in psychotherapy research, but it may vary considerably what that entails, ranging from no treatment, to routine treatment in primary care, general medical care, perinatal care, and specialized mental health care.
We conducted a meta-analysis of trials comparing psychotherapy for depression to CAU, with a focus on the different categories of CAU and countries where the studies were conducted. We used an existing database of randomized trials on psychotherapy for depression that is updated every year.
A total of 140 studies with 15 419 patients were included. We found no significant differences in effects between categories of CAU (effect sizes ranging from g = 0.43 for CAU in primary care to g = 0.73 for no treatment), but heterogeneity was high in all CAU categories. After stratifying effects across specific countries (within CAU categories) we found that heterogeneity was considerably lower and there were several significant differences between countries. Overall, effects were larger in non-Western countries (g = 0.84 to 1.28) compared to those in Western countries (g = 0.52; p for difference = 0.002). Effects were smaller in studies with risk of bias (p = 0.01).
There are no significant differences between major categories of CAU when compared to psychotherapy conditions in randomized trials. However, effects of psychotherapy differ considerably across CAU conditions in specific countries. CAU therefore is a heterogeneous control condition in psychotherapy research.
Little is known about potential harmful effects as a consequence of self-guided internet-based cognitive behaviour therapy (iCBT), such as symptom deterioration rates. Thus, safety concerns remain and hamper the implementation of self-guided iCBT into clinical practice. We aimed to conduct an individual participant data (IPD) meta-analysis to determine the prevalence of clinically significant deterioration (symptom worsening) in adults with depressive symptoms who received self-guided iCBT compared with control conditions. Several socio-demographic, clinical and study-level variables were tested as potential moderators of deterioration.
Randomised controlled trials that reported results of self-guided iCBT compared with control conditions in adults with symptoms of depression were selected. Mixed effects models with participants nested within studies were used to examine possible clinically significant deterioration rates.
Thirteen out of 16 eligible trials were included in the present IPD meta-analysis. Of the 3805 participants analysed, 7.2% showed clinically significant deterioration (5.8% and 9.1% of participants in the intervention and control groups, respectively). Participants in self-guided iCBT were less likely to deteriorate (OR 0.62, p < 0.001) compared with control conditions. None of the examined participant- and study-level moderators were significantly associated with deterioration rates.
Self-guided iCBT has a lower rate of negative outcomes on symptoms than control conditions and could be a first step treatment approach for adult depression as well as an alternative to watchful waiting in general practice.
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