A systematic review into the effectiveness of occupational therapy for improving function and participation in activities of everyday life in adults with a diagnosis of depression

Lynn Christie, Joanne Inman, Deborah Davys, Penny A. Cook

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Background: Depression is a common mental health disorder, the symptoms of which can disrupt functioning and lead to reduced participation in everyday activities. Occupational therapy is routinely provided for people with such difficulties; however, the evidence underpinning this intervention for depression has yet to be systematically assessed. Method: A systematic review of the effectiveness of occupational therapy for people with a diagnosis of depression, using the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-analysis (PRISMA) was undertaken. Seven databases were searched using terms for depression combined with terms associated with occupational therapy. Due to heterogeneity in study design and outcome measures, a best evidence synthesis was undertaken as an alternative to meta-analysis. Results: Of 1962 articles identified, 63 full texts were assessed and six met the inclusion criteria. Studies were carried out in Canada, Germany, the Netherlands, Taiwan and the United Kingdom. There was strong evidence for the effectiveness of occupational therapy return-to-work interventions for improving depression symptomology, limited evidence for occupational therapy lifestyle interventions for reducing anxiety and suicidal ideation, and limited evidence for improving work participation. No studies evaluated individualised client-centred occupational therapy, highlighting a gap in research. Limitations: Incomplete reporting within studies and heterogeneity prevented meta-analysis. English language restrictions were applied. Conclusions: Whilst overall the evidence base for occupational therapy for depression is limited, strong evidence was found for the effectiveness of occupational therapy return-to-work interventions, which is important given the costs associated with mental ill-health and work absence. Further research is needed to strengthen the evidence base.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)962-973
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Affective Disorders
Volume282
Issue number1
Early online date25 Dec 2020
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 9 Feb 2021

Keywords

  • depression
  • mental health
  • occupational therapy
  • effectiveness
  • functioning
  • return-to-work
  • Effectiveness
  • Return-to-work
  • Mental health
  • Depression
  • Occupational therapy
  • Functioning

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