Problem-solving therapy for depression: a meta-analysis

Clin Psychol Rev. 2009 Jun;29(4):348-53. doi: 10.1016/j.cpr.2009.02.003. Epub 2009 Feb 26.


Problem-Solving Therapy (PST) is a cognitive-behavioral intervention that focuses on training in adaptive problem-solving attitudes and skills. The purpose of this paper was to conduct a meta-analysis of controlled outcome studies on efficacy of PST for reducing depressive symptomatology. Based on results involving 21 independent samples, PST was found to be equally effective as other psychosocial therapies and medication treatments and significantly more effective than no treatment and support/attention control groups. Moreover, component analyses indicated that PST is more effective when the treatment program includes (a) training in a positive problem orientation (vs. problem-solving skills only), (b) training in all four major problem-solving skills (i.e., problem definition and formulation, generation of alternatives, decision making, and solution implementation and verification), and (c) training in the complete PST package (problem orientation plus the four problem-solving skills).

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy / methods*
  • Depressive Disorder, Major / psychology
  • Depressive Disorder, Major / therapy*
  • Humans
  • Problem Solving*