The aim of this study was to evaluate the efficacy of psychological therapies for people with intellectual disabilities (IDs) through a systematic review and meta-analysis of the current literature. A comprehensive literature search identified 143 intervention studies. Twenty-two trials were eligible for review, and 14 of these were subsequently included in the meta-analysis. Many studies did not include adequate information about their participants, especially the nature of their IDs; information about masked assessment, and therapy fidelity was also lacking. The meta-analysis yielded an overall moderate between-group effect size, g=.682, while group-based interventions had a moderate but smaller treatment effect than individual-based interventions. Cognitive-behaviour therapy (CBT) was efficacious for both anger and depression, while interventions aimed at improving interpersonal functioning were not effectual. When CBT was excluded, there was insufficient evidence regarding the efficacy of other psychological therapies, or psychological therapies intended to treat mental health problems in children and young people with IDs. Adults with IDs and concurrent mental health problems appear to benefit from psychological therapies. However, clinical trials need to make use of improved reporting standards and larger samples.
Keywords: Cognitive behavioural therapy; Intellectual disability; Learning disabilities; Meta-analysis; Neurodevelopmental disorders; Psychological therapy; Systematic review.
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