Characteristics of effective psychological treatments of depression: a metaregression analysis

Psychother Res. 2008 Mar;18(2):225-36. doi: 10.1080/10503300701442027.


Although many meta-analyses have shown that psychological therapies are effective in the treatment of depression, no comprehensive metaregression analysis has been conducted to examine which characteristics of the intervention, target population, and study design are related to the effects. The authors conducted such a metaregression analysis with 83 studies (135 comparisons) in which a psychological treatment was compared with a control condition. The mean effect size of all comparisons was 0.69 (95% confidence interval = 0.60-0.79). In multivariate analyses, several variables were significant: Studies using problem-solving interventions and those aimed at women with postpartum depression or specific populations had higher effect sizes, whereas studies with students as therapists, those in which participants were recruited from clinical populations and through systematic screening, and those using care-as-usual or placebo control groups had lower effect sizes.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
  • Depression / psychology*
  • Depression / therapy*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mental Disorders / therapy
  • Middle Aged
  • Psychotherapy / standards*
  • Regression Analysis
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Young Adult