Psychological Interventions in a Pandemic Emergency: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of SARS-CoV-2 Studies

J Clin Med. 2022 Jun 4;11(11):3209. doi: 10.3390/jcm11113209.


Background: The study aim was to review the evidence and effectiveness of psychological interventions applied during Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) pandemic. Methods: A literature search was run from April 2020 to April 2021. The inclusion criteria were: (1) RCTs or observational studies; (2) professional health carers and patients who had contracted coronavirus during the pandemic; (3) adults and elderly people with a viral infection diagnosis; (4) suitable measures to assess intervention effectiveness on clinical status and psychological and behavioral aspects. An internal validity assessment was planned using robvis. Data were synthesized according to PICO criteria. Results: A total of 12 studies were selected. Studies measuring mental health outcomes demonstrated the greatest reduction in symptoms, with eight out of the twelve studies demonstrating a reduction in symptoms that reached statistical significance (p < 0.05) and four of the studies reaching a higher significance level of p < 0.01. The type of psychological intervention was predominantly cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). All studies except one was run online. Conclusion: Psychological interventions have a benefit on mental health outcomes, even if performed online. In particular, CBT seems to be the psychological intervention that is used more and also seems to have a larger effect size on the mitigation of mental health symptoms and increasing resilience.

Keywords: anxiety; depression; psychological treatment; resilience; viral infection.

Publication types

  • Review

Grants and funding

This work was fully supported by “Ministero della Salute”, I.R.C.C.S. Research Program, Ricerca Corrente “Malattie complesse e terapie innovative”, and by the “5 × 1000” voluntary contribution.