Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing for Mental Health Problems: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis
23 Pages Posted: 4 Oct 2018More...
Background. There is no recent comprehensive meta-analysis of randomised trials examining the effects of Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) on post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and no systematic review at all of the effects of EMDR on other mental health problems.
Methods. We conducted systematic searches in PubMed, PsycInfo, Embase, the Cochrane database and ProQuest, and included all trials examining the effects of EMDR for any mental health problem.
Findings. A total of 76 studies met inclusion criteria. Most trials examined the effects of EMDR on PTSD (62%). The effect size of EMDR compared to control conditions was g=0.93 (95% CI: 0.67~1.18), with high heterogeneity (I2=72%, 95% CI: 58~80) and a prediction interval of -0.29~2.15. Only four of the 27 studies had low risk of bias, and there were indications for publication bias. EMDR was more effective than other therapies (g=0.36 ;95% CI: 0.14~0.57), but not in studies with low risk of bias. Significant results were also found for EMDR in phobias and test anxiety, but the number of studies was small and there was considerable risk of bias. EMDR was examined in several other mental health problems, but in none of these problems sufficient studies were available to pool outcomes.
Interpretation. We conclude that EMDR is effective in the treatment of PTSD in the short term, that it is at least as effective as other therapies for PTSD, but that there is not enough evidence to advise it for the use in other people with other mental health problems.
Funding: No external funding was received for this work.
Declaration of Interest: All authors declare that they have no conflict of interests.
Keywords: EMDR; PTSD; anxiety disorders; meta-analysis; randomised trials; comparative outcome studies
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