Background: We performed the first meta-analysis of clinical studies by investigating the effects of eye-movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) therapy on the symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression, anxiety, and subjective distress in PTSD patients treated during the past 2 decades.
Methods: We performed a quantitative meta-analysis on the findings of 26 randomized controlled trials of EMDR therapy for PTSD published between 1991 and 2013, which were identified through the ISI Web of Science, Embase, Cochrane Library, MEDLINE, PubMed, Scopus, PsycINFO, and the Cumulative Index to Nursing and Allied Health Literature electronic databases, among which 22, 20, 16, and 11 of the studies assessed the effects of EMDR on the symptoms of PTSD, depression, anxiety, and subjective distress, respectively, as the primary clinical outcome.
Results: The meta-analysis revealed that the EMDR treatments significantly reduced the symptoms of PTSD (g = -0.662; 95% confidence interval (CI): -0.887 to -0.436), depression (g = -0.643; 95% CI: -0.864 to -0.422), anxiety (g = -0.640; 95% CI: -0.890 to -0.390), and subjective distress (g = -0.956; 95% CI: -1.388 to -0.525) in PTSD patients.
Conclusion: This study confirmed that EMDR therapy significantly reduces the symptoms of PTSD, depression, anxiety, and subjective distress in PTSD patients. The subgroup analysis indicated that a treatment duration of more than 60 min per session was a major contributing factor in the amelioration of anxiety and depression, and that a therapist with experience in conducting PTSD group therapy was a major contributing factor in the reduction of PTSD symptoms.