Treatment of current depressive symptoms in dialysis patients: A systematic review and meta-analysis

Els Nadort*, Robbert W. Schouten, Simon H.S. Witte, Birit F.P. Broekman, Adriaan Honig, Carl E.H. Siegert, Patricia van Oppen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articleAcademicpeer-review


Objective: Symptoms of depression are highly prevalent and undertreated in dialysis patients. To aid clinicians in offering treatment to patients with depression, we conducted a systematic review and meta-analysis on the treatment of current depressive symptoms in dialysis patients. Methods: Nine databases were searched on January 8th 2020 for randomized controlled trials on the treatment of depressive symptoms in dialysis patients. In contradiction to previous reviews, we only included studies who selected patients with a score above a defined cut-off for depressive symptoms and used an inactive control group, to investigate the effectiveness of treatments in currently depressed patients. All interventions aimed to treat depressive symptoms were accepted for inclusion. Standardized mean differences were calculated in a random effect meta-analysis. Results: Seventeen studies were included in the systematic review (1640 patients). Nine studies could be included in the meta-analysis. A pooled analysis of 7 studies on psychotherapy showed a standardized mean difference of −0.48 [−0.87; −0.08], with a moderate heterogeneity (I2 = 52%, X2 = 12.56, p = .05). All studies on psychotherapy performed a per protocol analysis and scored high on potential bias. A pooled analysis of two studies on SSRI's showed no statistically significant improvement of depressive symptoms (SMD −0.57 [−6.17; 5.02], I2 = 71%, X2 = 0.2474, p = .06). Conclusions: Psychotherapy is a promising treatment for currently depressed dialysis patients, although quality of evidence is low. More evidence is needed regarding the efficacy of SSRI's, exercise therapy and dietary supplements in this population. PROSPERO: CRD42018073969

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)26-34
Number of pages9
JournalGeneral Hospital Psychiatry
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2020

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