Effects of interventions to reduce adolescent depression in low- and middle-income countries: A systematic review and meta-analysis Academic Article uri icon

  • Overview
  • Research
  • Identity
  • Additional Document Info
  • View All


  • BACKGROUND: International comparisons found that depression prevalence ranged from 18.3% (China) to 51.5% (Zambia) among school students in some low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). The evidence base for treatment of adolescent depression in LMICs is limited and inadequate. Moreover, most treatment interventions are developed in high income countries and the effectiveness of these treatments in LMICs is largely unknown. METHOD: Randomized controlled trials, including cluster-randomized trials that have been implemented in LMICs to reduce adolescent depression, were examined in this systematic review and meta-analysis. Only one-time point (3 months or close to 3 months) of the outcome measures was chosen to evaluate effectiveness of interventions. RESULTS: Studies that used cognitive-behavioral therapy reduced depressive symptoms more effectively than other treatments with standardized mean difference (SMD) = -1.27, (95% CI -2.19 to -0.35). Microfinance/economic interventions also reduced depression in adolescents with SMD = - 0.35, (95% CI -0.71 to 0.01) and Interpersonal therapy was used in three studies and depressive symptoms reduced by SMD = -0.23, (95% IC -0.60 to 0.13). Moreover, complex psychotherapeutic interventions that used integrated techniques showed a reduction in depression with SMD = -0.23, (95% IC -0.33 to -0.14) as well. CONCLUSIONS: Across twenty-eight studies, the evidence showed that cognitive behavioral therapy that delivered by nurses, social workers and counselors at community-based settings were more effective treatments in decreasing adolescent depression in LMICs. Future studies should implement these universal treatment approaches to identify accessible, feasible, affordable and sustainable depression treatments in the countries with less available resources.


  • Davaasambuu, Sarantsetseg
  • Hauwadhanasuk, Tanyathorn
  • Matsuo, Hisako
  • Szatmari, Peter

publication date

  • April 2020