The Effectiveness of Problem-Solving Therapy for Primary Care Patients' Depressive and/or Anxiety Disorders: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis

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There is increasing demand for managing depressive and/or anxiety disorders among primary care patients. Problem-solving therapy (PST) is a brief evidence- and strength-based psychotherapy that has received increasing support for its effectiveness in managing depression and anxiety among primary care patients.


We conducted a systematic review and meta-analysis of clinical trials examining PST for patients with depression and/or anxiety in primary care as identified by searches for published literature across 6 databases and manual searching. A weighted average of treatment effect size estimates per study was used for meta-analysis and moderator analysis.


From an initial pool of 153 primary studies, 11 studies (with 2072 participants) met inclusion criteria for synthesis. PST reported an overall significant treatment effect for primary care depression and/or anxiety (d= 0.673;P< .001). Participants' age and sex moderated treatment effects. Physician-involved PST in primary care, despite a significantly smaller treatment effect size than mental health provider only PST, reported an overall statistically significant effect (d= 0.35;P= .029).


Results from the study supported PST's effectiveness for primary care depression and/or anxiety. Our preliminary results also indicated that physician-involved PST offers meaningful improvements for primary care patients' depression and/or anxiety.

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