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Depress Anxiety. 2016 May;33(5):400-14. doi: 10.1002/da.22461. Epub 2015 Dec 18.

PSYCHOLOGICAL TREATMENT OF DEPRESSION IN COLLEGE STUDENTS: A METAANALYSIS.

Author information

1
Department of Clinical, Neuro and Developmental Psychology, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, Amsterdam, The Netherlands.
2
EMGO Institute for Health and Care Research, Amsterdam, The Netherlands.
3
Department of Clinical Psychology and Psychotherapy, Babes-Bolyai University, Cluj-Napoca, Romania.
4
Clinical Psychology Branch, Department of Surgical, Medical, Molecular, and Critical Pathology, University of Pisa, Pisa, Italy.
5
Department of Psychology, Clinical Psychology and Psychotherapy, Friedrich-Alexander University Nuremberg-Erlangen, Erlangen, Germany.
6
Department of Psychiatry, Harvard Medical School, Center for Depression, Anxiety, and Stress Research, McLean Hospital, Belmont, Massachusetts.
7
Universitair Psychiatrisch Centrum - KU Leuven, Kortenberg, Belgium.
8
Department of Health Care Policy, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts.

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Expanded efforts to detect and treat depression among college students, a peak period of onset, have the potential to bear high human capital value from a societal perspective because depression increases college withdrawal rates. However, it is not clear whether evidence-based depression therapies are as effective in college students as in other adult populations. The higher levels of cognitive functioning and IQ and higher proportions of first-onset cases might lead to treatment effects being different among college students relative to the larger adult population.

METHODS:

We conducted a metaanalysis of randomized trials comparing psychological treatments of depressed college students relative to control groups and compared effect sizes in these studies to those in trials carried out in unselected populations of depressed adults.

RESULTS:

The 15 trials on college students satisfying study inclusion criteria included 997 participants. The pooled effect size of therapy versus control was g = 0.89 (95% CI: 0.66∼1.11; NNT = 2.13) with moderate heterogeneity (I(2) = 57; 95% CI: 23∼72). None of these trials had low risk of bias. Effect sizes were significantly larger when students were not remunerated (e.g. money, credit), received individual versus group therapy, and were in trials that included a waiting list control group. No significant difference emerged in comparing effect sizes among college students versus adults either in simple mean comparisons or in multivariate metaregression analyses.

CONCLUSIONS:

This metaanalysis of trials examining psychological treatments of depression in college students suggests that these therapies are effective and have effect sizes comparable to trials carried out among depressed adults.

KEYWORDS:

behavioral activation therapy; cognitive behavior therapy; college students; depression; metaanalysis; psychotherapy

PMID:
26682536
PMCID:
PMC4846553
DOI:
10.1002/da.22461
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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