Psychotherapy Targeting Depression and Anxiety for Use in Palliative Care: A Meta-Analysis.

Journal Article (Journal Article;Review)

BACKGROUND: Research on the effectiveness of evidence-based practices in the treatment of depression and anxiety with palliative care populations is primarily limited to individuals having specific conditions such as cancer. OBJECTIVE: This meta-analysis examined the effect of psychotherapy on depression and anxiety among individuals with any condition appropriate for palliative care. METHODS: We searched PubMed, PsycINFO, Cochrane Library, and EMBASE databases until August 2017. Eligible studies were randomized controlled trials of psychotherapy that reported outcomes of depression and anxiety and included adults with serious illnesses. RESULTS: The current meta-analysis included 32 randomized controlled trials with 36 samples including 1536 participants undergoing psychotherapy. Overall, findings suggest that psychotherapy in palliative care populations reduced depression (large effect) and anxiety (small effect) symptoms. Psychotherapy also improved quality of life (small effect). Significant moderators of intervention effects included type of intervention and provider, number and length of treatment sessions, and sample age. Cognitive-behaviorally based and other therapies (e.g., acceptance, mindfulness) showed significant effects, as did interventions delivered by mental health providers. More treatment sessions were associated with greater effect sizes; longer sessions were associated with decreased effect sizes. As the sample age increased, the study effect size decreased. CONCLUSION: Findings suggest that psychotherapy for individuals with serious illnesses appropriate for palliative care can mitigate symptoms of depression and anxiety and improve quality of life. Methodological reporting and quality of research designs in studies of psychotherapy for palliative patient populations could be improved. Future research is needed with a broader range of patient populations.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Fulton, JJ; Newins, AR; Porter, LS; Ramos, K

Published Date

  • July 2018

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 21 / 7

Start / End Page

  • 1024 - 1037

PubMed ID

  • 29676960

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1557-7740

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1089/jpm.2017.0576


  • eng

Conference Location

  • United States