Psychological interventions for depression in adolescent and adult congenital heart disease

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Background: Despite improvements in medical care, the quality of life of adults and adolescents with congenital heart disease remains strongly affected by their condition, often leading to depression. Psychotherapy, cognitive behavioural therapy, and other talking therapies may be effective in treating depression in both adults and young adults with congenital heart disease. The aim of this review was to assess the effects of treatments, such as psychotherapy, cognitive behavioural therapies, and talking therapies for treating depression in this population. Objectives: To evaluate the effects (both harms and benefits) of psychological interventions for reducing symptoms of depression in adolescents (aged 10 to 17 years) and adults with congenital heart disease. Psychological interventions include cognitive behavioural therapy, psychotherapy, or 'talking/counselling' therapy for depression. Search methods: We updated searches from the 2013 Cochrane Review by searching CENTRAL, four other databases, and Conference Proceedings Citation Index to 7 March 2023, and two clinical trial registers to February 2021. We applied no language restrictions. Selection criteria: Randomised controlled trials (RCTs) comparing psychological interventions to no intervention in the congenital heart disease population, aged 10 years and older, with depression. Data collection and analysis: Two review authors independently screened titles and abstracts, and independently assessed full-text reports for inclusion. Further information was sought from the authors if needed. Data were extracted in duplicate. We used standard Cochrane methods. Our primary outcome was a change in depression. Our secondary outcomes were: acceptability of treatment, quality of life, hospital re-admission, non-fatal cardiovascular events, cardiovascular behavioural risk factor, health economics, cardiovascular mortality, all-cause mortality. We used GRADE to assess the certainty of evidence for our primary outcome only. Main results: We identified three new RCTs (480 participants). Participants were adults with congenital heart disease. Included studies varied in intervention length (90 minutes to 3 months) and follow-up (3 to 12 months), with depression assessed post-intervention and at follow-up. Risk of bias assessment identified an overall low risk of bias for the main outcome of depression. Psychological interventions (talking/counselling therapy) may reduce depression more than usual care at both three-month (mean difference (MD) -1.07, 95% confidence interval (CI) -1.84 to -0.30; P = 0.006; I2 = 0%; 2 RCTs, 156 participants; low-certainty evidence), and 12-month follow-up (MD -1.02, 95% CI -1.92 to -0.13; P = 0.02; I2 = 0%; 2 RCTs, 287 participants; low-certainty evidence). There was insufficient evidence to draw conclusions about the impact of psychological interventions on quality of life. None of the included studies reported on our other outcomes of interest. Due to the low number of studies included, we did not undertake any subgroup analyses. One study awaits classification. Authors' conclusions: Psychological interventions may reduce depression in adults with congenital heart disease compared to usual care. However, the certainty of the evidence is low. Further research is needed to establish the role of psychological interventions in this population, defining the optimal duration, method of administration, and number of sessions required to obtain the greatest benefit.




Leo, D. G., Islam, U., Lotto, R. R., Lotto, A., & Lane, D. A. (2023). Psychological interventions for depression in adolescent and adult congenital heart disease. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, 2023(10).

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