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Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing for Mental Health Problems: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis

23 Pages Posted: 4 Oct 2018

See all articles by Pim Cuijpers

Pim Cuijpers

VU University Amsterdam - Department of Clinical Psychology; The EMGO Institute, VU University Medical Center; The Amsterdam Interdisciplinary Center of Law and Health

Sozanne C. van Veen

Utrecht University

Marit Sijbrandij

VU University Amsterdam - Department of Clinical, Neuro and Developmental Psychology

Whitney Yoder

VU University Amsterdam - Department of Clinical, Neuro and Developmental Psychology

Ioana A. Cristea

Babes-Bolyai University

More...

Abstract

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

Suggested Citation

Cuijpers, Pim and van Veen, Sozanne C. and Sijbrandij, Marit and Yoder, Whitney and Cristea, Ioana A., Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing for Mental Health Problems: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis (March 9, 2018). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3244037

Pim Cuijpers (Contact Author)

VU University Amsterdam - Department of Clinical Psychology ( email )

Amsterdam, 1081 HV
Netherlands

The EMGO Institute, VU University Medical Center

Amsterdam
Netherlands

The Amsterdam Interdisciplinary Center of Law and Health

De Boelelaan 1105
Amsterdam, 1081HV
Netherlands

Sozanne C. Van Veen

Utrecht University

Vredenburg 138
Utrecht, 3511 BG
Netherlands

Marit Sijbrandij

VU University Amsterdam - Department of Clinical, Neuro and Developmental Psychology

Van der Boechorststraat 1
Amsterdam, 1081 BT
Netherlands

Whitney Yoder

VU University Amsterdam - Department of Clinical, Neuro and Developmental Psychology

Van der Boechorststraat 1
Amsterdam, 1081 BT
Netherlands

Ioana A. Cristea

Babes-Bolyai University

58-60 Teodor Maniu street, Cluj-Napoca
67 Iuliu Maniu street, Sighetu Marmatiei
RO-3400 Cluj-Napoca, Cluj 435500
Romania

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