Is group psychotherapy effective in older adults with depression? A systematic review

Int J Geriatr Psychiatry. 2011 Apr;26(4):331-40. doi: 10.1002/gps.2546. Epub 2010 Oct 22.


Objective: Earlier reviews and meta-analyses have consistently concluded that psychological treatment of depression is effective in older adults. We conducted a systematic review randomised controlled trials of group psychotherapy to present the best available evidence in relation to its effectiveness in older adults with depressive disorders.

Methods: Electronic databases were searched to identify randomised controlled trials. Selected studies were quality assessed and data extracted by two reviewers.

Results: Six trials met the inclusion criteria. The trials included in the review examined group interventions based on the cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) model with active therapeutic interventions or waiting list controls. Group psychotherapy is an effective intervention in older adults with depression in comparison to waiting list controls, the overall effect size is very modest (MD = -3.92, 95%CI: -6.18, -1.67). The reported benefits of group intervention in comparison to other active interventions did not reach statistical significance. The benefits of group psychotherapy were maintained at follow-up. The quality of the studies varied and studies were heterogeneous.

Conclusions: Although quality of many studies was not optimal, the results of this meta analysis support the results of earlier meta analyses. Group cognitive behavioural therapy is effective in older adults with depression.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy / standards
  • Depressive Disorder / therapy*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Psychiatric Status Rating Scales
  • Psychotherapy, Group / standards*
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic