Intervention Review

Family therapy for depression

  1. Tamara Henken1,*,
  2. Marcus J.H. Huibers2,
  3. Rachel Churchill3,
  4. Kathleen K Restifo4,
  5. Jeffrey J Roelofs4

Editorial Group: Cochrane Depression, Anxiety and Neurosis Group

Published Online: 18 JUL 2007

Assessed as up-to-date: 22 MAY 2007

DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD006728

How to Cite

Henken T, Huibers MJ, Churchill R, Restifo KK, Roelofs JJ. Family therapy for depression. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2007, Issue 3. Art. No.: CD006728. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD006728.

Author Information

  1. 1

    Primulastraat 3, Eindhoven, Netherlands

  2. 2

    Maastricht University, Department of Clinical Psychological Science , Maastricht, Netherlands

  3. 3

    University of Bristol, Academic Unit of Psychiatry, Community Based Medicine, Bristol, Avon, UK

  4. 4

    Maastricht University, Department of Medical, Clinical and Experimental Psychology, Maastricht, Netherlands

*Tamara Henken, Primulastraat 3, Eindhoven, 5644 LH , Netherlands.

Publication History

  1. Publication Status: Edited (no change to conclusions)
  2. Published Online: 18 JUL 2007




  1. Top of page
  2. Abstract
  3. Plain language summary
  4. 摘要


People with depression often experience interpersonal problems. Family therapy for depression is a widely used intervention, but it is unclear whether this is an effective therapy for the treatment of depression.


To assess the efficacy of family therapy for depression.

Search methods

The following electronic databases were searched using a specific search strategy: CCDANCTR-Studies and CCDANCTR-References searched on 21/10/2005, The Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials, Medline (1966 to January 2005), EMBASE (1980 to January 2005), Psycinfo (1974 to January 2005). Reference lists of articles were also searched. Handsearches of relevant journals and bibliographies were conducted and first authors of included studies and experts in the field were contacted for further information.

Selection criteria

Included studies were randomised controlled and controlled clinical trials comparing family therapy with no intervention or an alternative intervention in which depression symptomatology was a main outcome measure.

Data collection and analysis

Methodological quality was independently assessed by two review authors using the Maastricht-Amsterdam Criteria List. The qualitative and quantitative characteristics of the selected trials were independently extracted by three review authors using a standardised data extraction form. Levels of evidence were used to determine the strength of the evidence available. It was not possible to perform meta-analyses because of the heterogeneity of the selected studies.

Main results

Three high-quality and three low-quality studies, involving 519 people with depression, were identified. The studies were very heterogeneous in terms of interventions, participants, and measuring instruments. Despite fairly good methodological quality and positive findings of some studies, evidence for the effectiveness of family therapy for depression did not exceed level 3 (limited or conflicting evidence), except for moderate evidence (level 2), based on the non-combined findings from three studies, indicating that family therapy is more effective than no treatment or waiting list condition on decreasing depression, and on increasing family functioning.

Authors' conclusions

The current evidence base is too heterogeneous and sparse to draw conclusions on the overall effectiveness of family therapy in the treatment of depression. At this point, use of psychological interventions for the treatment of depression for which there is already an evidence-base would seem to be preferable to family therapy. Further high quality trials examining the effectiveness and comparative effectiveness of explicitly defined forms of family therapy are required.


Plain language summary

  1. Top of page
  2. Abstract
  3. Plain language summary
  4. 摘要

Family therapy for depression

This review looks at whether family therapy is an effective intervention in treating people of any age with depression. Family therapy for depression is widely used, especially in the United Kingdom and the United States. The small number of randomised controlled trials included in the review were very heterogeneous, and therefore difficult to synthesise. Family therapy seems more effective than no treatment or being placed on a waiting list, but it remains unclear how effective this intervention is in comparison to other interventions. Further randomised controlled trials are needed.



  1. Top of page
  2. Abstract
  3. Plain language summary
  4. 摘要







我們使用特定的搜尋策略來搜尋電子資料庫:搜尋到 21/10/2005的CCDANCTRStudies and CCDANCTRReferences,The Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials, Medline (1966 to January 2005), EMBASE (1980 to January 2005), Psycinfo (1974 to January 2005). 搜尋文章後的參考文獻,並手動搜尋相關期刊及書目,並且與納入研究的第一作者和這一個領域的專家接觸來獲得更進一步的資訊。




由2位作者分別使用MaastrichtAmsterdam Criteria List來評估方法學上的品質。由3名的作者分別使用標準化的資料摘錄格式來紀錄這些研究的質與量的特徵,使用證據等級來標示證據的強弱。由於這些研究的異質性因此無法使用metaanalyses。







此翻譯計畫由臺灣國家衛生研究院(National Health Research Institutes, Taiwan)統籌。