Question: In adults with depression, how effective are group therapies and interventions, compared to individual therapies and interventions, in improving patient outcomes?


Plain language summary

There is limited high quality evidence that adequately compares the efficacy of different group interventions to individual interventions, for people with depression. More well-conducted trials are required to determine the most effective therapy for improving symptoms of depression.

Clinical and research implications

Evidence from three systematic reviews suggests that there is no significant difference in effectiveness between group and individual cognitive behavioural therapy for the treatment of adults with depression. It should be noted that evidence was derived from small randomised controlled trials (RCTs) and that there was considerable overlap between the studies included in the three reviews.In addition one large RCT, not included in any of the systematic reviews, found that an individual problem solving intervention was more effective than a group educational intervention for adults with depression; both interventions were found to significantly reduce depressive symptoms, but no comparative effect estimate was provided. Research is needed to provide information on the comparative effectiveness of other types of group and individual psychological interventions.

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