COVID-19 COVID-19 Evidence Alerts from McMaster PLUS is a new service that alerts users to current best evidence for clinical care of people with threatened, suspected or confirmed COVID-19 infection.
Visit the site Sign up for alerts
Cuijpers P, Oud M, Karyotaki E, et al. Psychologic Treatment of Depression Compared With Pharmacotherapy and Combined Treatment in Primary Care: A Network Meta-Analysis. Ann Fam Med. 2021 May-Jun;19(3):262-270. doi: 10.1370/afm.2676. (Systematic review)

PURPOSE: Most patients with depression are treated by general practitioners, and most of those patients prefer psychotherapy over pharmacotherapy. No network meta-analyses have examined the effects of psychotherapy compared with pharmacotherapy, combined treatment, care as usual, and other control conditions among patients in primary care.

METHODS: We conducted systematic searches of bibliographic databases to identify randomized trials comparing psychotherapy with pharmacotherapy, combined treatment, care as usual, waitlist, and pill placebo. The main outcome was treatment response (50% improvement of depressive symptoms from baseline to end point).

RESULTS: A total of 58 studies with 9,301 patients were included. Both psychotherapy and pharmacotherapy were significantly more effective than care as usual (relative risk [RR] for response = 1.60; 95% CI, 1.40-1.83 and RR = 1.65; 95% CI, 1.35-2.03, respectively) and waitlist (RR = 2.35; 95% CI, 1.57-3.51 and RR = 2.43; 95% CI, 1.57-3.74, respectively) control groups. We found no significant differences between psychotherapy and pharmacotherapy (RR = 1.03; 95% CI, 0.88-1.22). The effects were significantly greater for combined treatment compared with psychotherapy alone (RR = 1.35; 95% CI, 1.00-1.81). The difference between combined treatment and pharmacotherapy became significant when limited to studies with low risk of bias and studies limited to cognitive behavior therapy.

CONCLUSIONS: Psychotherapy is likely effective for the treatment of depression when compared with care as usual or waitlist, with effects comparable to those of pharmacotherapy. Combined treatment might be better than either psychotherapy or pharmacotherapy alone.

Discipline Area Score
Psychiatry 7 / 7
General Internal Medicine-Primary Care(US) 5 / 7
Family Medicine (FM)/General Practice (GP) 5 / 7
FM/GP/Mental Health 5 / 7
Comments from MORE raters

General Internal Medicine-Primary Care(US) rater

This article reinforces the benefit of therapy; it looked only at therapy alone (the articles skewed in this direction) versus medication treatment. The analysis was conducted in an appropriate manner.

Psychiatry rater

This is a paper about real-life settings, the value of effective treatment, and the importance of the combination of psychotherapy and pharmacotherapy for depression.
Comments from EvidenceAlerts subscribers

No subscriber has commented on this article yet.