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Medline ® Abstract for Reference 20

of 'Unipolar depression in adults: Psychodynamic psychotherapy'

20
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The effects of psychotherapy for adult depression are overestimated: a meta-analysis of study quality and effect size.
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Cuijpers P, van Straten A, Bohlmeijer E, Hollon SD, Andersson G
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Psychol Med. 2010;40(2):211.
 
BACKGROUND: No meta-analytical study has examined whether the quality of the studies examining psychotherapy for adult depression is associated with the effect sizes found. This study assesses this association.
METHOD: We used a database of 115 randomized controlled trials in which 178 psychotherapies for adult depression were compared to a control condition. Eight quality criteria were assessed by two independent coders: participants met diagnostic criteria for a depressive disorder, a treatment manual was used, the therapists were trained, treatment integrity was checked, intention-to-treat analyses were used, N>or= 50, randomization was conducted by an independent party, and assessors of outcome were blinded.
RESULTS: Only 11 studies (16 comparisons) met the eight quality criteria. The standardized mean effect size found for the high-quality studies (d=0.22) was significantly smaller than in the other studies (d=0.74, p<0.001), even after restricting the sample to the subset of other studies that used the kind of care-as-usual or non-specific controls that tended to be used in the high-quality studies. Heterogeneity was zero in the group of high-quality studies. The numbers needed to be treated in the high-quality studies was 8, while it was 2 in the lower-quality studies.
CONCLUSIONS: We found strong evidence that the effects of psychotherapy for adult depression have been overestimated in meta-analytical studies. Although the effects of psychotherapy are significant, they are much smaller than was assumed until now, even after controlling for the type of control condition used.
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Department of Clinical Psychology, VU University Amsterdam, Amsterdam, The Netherlands. p.cuijpers@psy.vu.nl
PMID