Depression self-management support: a systematic review

Patient Educ Couns. 2013 Jun;91(3):271-9. doi: 10.1016/j.pec.2013.01.012. Epub 2013 Feb 14.


Objective: To systematically review empirical evidence regarding the efficacy of depression self-management support (SMS) interventions for improving depression symptomatology and preventing relapse.

Methods: Pubmed and PsycINFO databases were searched for relevant articles on depression SMS interventions. Scanning of references in the articles and relevant reviews and communications with field experts yielded additional articles. Two independent reviewers analyzed the articles for inclusion and data was extracted from the selected articles.

Results: 13 papers met the inclusion criteria and reported the results of six separate studies, including three pilot studies. The results were mostly positive. A majority of the trials assessing depression severity changes found SMS to be superior to care as usual. SMS interventions were found to improve self-management behaviors and self-efficacy. Mixed results were found concerning relapse rates. Promising results were found on assessments of functional status. Based on the findings, cost-effectiveness remains unclear.

Conclusion: SMS has been mostly examined through pilot studies with insufficient power. The results are promising, but larger randomized controlled trials are needed.

Practice implications: SMS interventions can be administered by non-physician professionals and are well accepted by patients, but more research is needed before we can recommend implementing specific depression SMS approaches in primary care.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Cooperative Behavior*
  • Depressive Disorder / therapy*
  • Humans
  • Self Care / methods*
  • Social Support*
  • Treatment Outcome