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Psychother Psychosom. 2009;78(5):265-74. doi: 10.1159/000228247. Epub 2009 Jul 11.

Short-term psychodynamic psychotherapy for somatic disorders. Systematic review and meta-analysis of clinical trials.

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1
Department of Psychiatry, Centre for Emotions and Health, Dalhousie University, Halifax, NS, Canada. allan.abbass@dal.ca

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Somatic symptom disorders are common, disabling and costly. Individually provided short-term psychodynamic psychotherapies (STPP) have shown promising results. However, the effectiveness of STPP for somatic symptom disorders has not been reviewed.

METHODS:

We undertook a systematic review of randomized controlled trials and controlled before and after studies. The outcomes included psychological symptoms, physical symptoms, social-occupational function, healthcare utilization and treatment continuation.

RESULTS:

A total of 23 studies met the inclusion criteria and covered a broad range of somatic disorders. Thirteen were RCTs and 10 were case series with pre-post outcome assessment. Of the included studies, 21/23 (91.3%), 11/12 (91.6%), 16/19 (76.2%) and 7/9 (77.8%) reported significant or possible effects on physical symptoms, psychological symptoms, social-occupational function and healthcare utilization respectively. Meta-analysis was possible for 14 studies and revealed significant effects on physical symptoms, psychiatric symptoms and social adjustment which were maintained in long-term follow-up. Random-effect modeling attenuated some of these relationships. There was a 54% greater treatment retention in the STPP group versus controls.

CONCLUSION:

STPP may be effective for a range of medical and physical conditions underscoring the role of patients' emotional adjustment in overall health. Future research should include high-quality randomized and clinical effectiveness studies with attention to healthcare use and costs.

PMID:
19602915
DOI:
10.1159/000228247
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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