Psychological treatments seem to help depressed inpatients, but more research is needed

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This meta-analysis looks to provide reliable evidence about the effectiveness of psychological treatment for depressed inpatients.

The authors carried out a systematic search and found 12 studies with a total of 570 respondents. The included studies had sufficient statistical power to detect small effect sizes, there was no significant heterogeneity, there was no indication for significant publication bias and effects were not associated with characteristics of the population, the interventions and the design of the studies. In short, although this review includes just a small number of studies and many of the trials are not optimal, it does provide us with some indication of how well psychological therapies work to treat depression in an inpatient setting.

Psychological treatments had a small (g=0.29), but statistically significant additional effect on depression compared to usual care and structured pharmacological treatments only. This corresponded with a numbers-needed-to-be-treated of 6.17.

The authors concluded that:

Psychological treatments have a small but robust effect on depression in depressed inpatients. More high-quality research is needed to verify these results.

Cuijpers P, Clignet F, van Meijel B, van Straten A, Li J, Andersson G. Psychological treatment of depression in inpatients: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Clin Psychol Rev. 2011 Apr;31(3):353-60. Epub 2011 Jan 16. [PubMed abstract]

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Andre Tomlin

André Tomlin is an Information Scientist with 20 years experience working in evidence-based healthcare. He's worked in the NHS, for Oxford University and since 2002 as Managing Director of Minervation Ltd, a consultancy company who do clever digital stuff for charities, universities and the public sector. Most recently André has been the driving force behind the Mental Elf and the National Elf Service; an innovative digital platform that helps professionals keep up to date with simple, clear and engaging summaries of evidence-based research. André is a Trustee at the Centre for Mental Health and an Honorary Research Fellow at University College London Division of Psychiatry. He lives in Bristol, surrounded by dogs, elflings and lots of woodland!

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