Meta-analysis: individualized interventions may help struggling physicians

  • Lancet Psychiatry

  • curated by Kelli Whitlock Burton
  • Clinical Essentials
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Takeaway

  • Individualized interventions aimed at physicians yielded a moderate reduction in depression symptoms, general psychological distress, anxiety, and suicidal ideation in physicians.

Why this matters

  • Studies suggest that physicians have a higher incidence of mental health issues and a greater risk for suicide compared with the general population.
  • This meta-analysis identified a concerning lack of research on programs to reduce symptoms of mental health problems in physicians, particularly organizational-level interventions.

Study design

  • MEDLINE, EMBASE, and other electronic databases were searched for randomized controlled studies or controlled before-after studies of interventions to reduce depression, anxiety, or suicidality in physicians.
  • Systematic review included 8 studies involving 1023 physicians that compared outcomes between an intervention and any type of control group.
  • Funding: Australian Government; iCare Foundation.

Key results

  • Moderate reduction in overall mental health symptoms favoring intervention vs the control group was observed (standardized mean difference [SMD], 0.62; P<.0001 studies>
  • Intervention vs control group showed moderate reduction in symptoms of:
    • depression (SMD, 0.53; P=.0019; 3 studies),
    • general psychological distress (SMD, 0.65; P<.0001 studies>
    • anxiety (SMD, 0.71; P=.035; 1 study), and
    • suicidal ideation (risk ratio, 0.40; P=.03; 1 study).

Limitations

  • Small number of studies included.
  • Short-term follow-up.

Coauthored with Antara Ghosh, PhD

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