Objectives The aim of the study was to investigate whether different types of health promotion intervention in the workplace reduce depression and anxiety symptoms. Methods A systematic review and meta-analysis of the literature was undertaken on workplace health promotion published during the period 1997-2007. Studies were considered eligible for inclusion if they evaluated the impact of an intervention using a valid indicator or specific measure of depression or anxiety symptoms. The standardized mean difference was calculated for each of the following three types of outcome measures: depression, anxiety, and composite mental health. Results Altogether 22 studies were found that met the inclusion criteria, with a total sample size of 3409 employees postintervention, and 17 of these studies were included in the meta-analysis, representing 20 intervention-control comparisons. The pooled results indicated small, but positive overall effects of the interventions with respect to symptoms of depression [SMD 0.28, 95% confidence interval (95% CI) 0.12-0.44] and anxiety (SMD 0.29, 95% CI 0.06-0.51), but no effect on composite mental health measures (SMD 0.05, 95% CI -0.03-0.13). The interventions that included a direct focus on mental health had a comparable effect on depression and anxiety symptoms, as did the interventions with an indirect focus on risk factors. Conclusions When the aim is to reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety in employee populations, a broad range of health promotion interventions appear to be effective, although the effect is small.
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