Do interventions principally targeting excessive alcohol use in young people improve depression symptoms? a systematic review and meta-analysis

Kim Fredman Stein, Jennifer L Allen, Ross Robinson, Cassandra Smith, Katherine Sawyer, Gemma Taylor

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (SciVal)

Abstract

Background: Excessive alcohol use is common in young people and is associated with a range of adverse consequences including an increased risk of depression. Alcohol interventions are known to be effective in young people, however it is not known if these interventions can also improve depression. Objective: To investigate whether psychosocial interventions principally targeting excessive alcohol use in young people reduce depression symptoms compared to controls. Design: We conducted a systematic review and meta-analysis of controlled intervention trials, that measured depression symptoms at follow-up. We used a generic inverse variance random effect meta-analysis to pool the standardised mean difference in change in depression symptoms from baseline to follow-up between intervention and control arms. We used I 2 to measure heterogeneity, the Cochrane tool for randomised trials to assess risk of bias, and Egger’s tests to assess small study bias. Data sources: APA PsycNET, PubMed, Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials, Web of Science, Embase (including MEDLINE), and clinicaltrials.gov were searched for relevant studies published from inception to December 2020. Reference lists of studies were also searched, and authors contacted where articles presented insufficient data. Study eligibility criteria: Intervention studies that primarily targeted existing excessive alcohol use in young people (aged 10 to 24) and assessed depression outcomes at baseline with a minimum of four-week follow-up. Results: Five studies were included in the meta-analysis. Interventions targeting excessive alcohol use were associated with a reduction in depression symptoms from baseline to follow-up when compared to control, standardised mean difference = − 0.26, and 95% confidence interval [− 0.41, − 0.12], p <.001. Conclusions: This study found evidence that interventions primarily targeting excessive alcohol use can reduce depression symptoms in young people. However, this finding should be taken with caution given concerns about risk of bias in all studies. More research is needed to examine whether these findings generalise beyond populations of undergraduate students primarily living in high income countries. Trial registration: PROSPERO registration number: CRD42020177260.

Original languageEnglish
Article number417
JournalBMC Psychiatry
Volume22
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 21 Jun 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Drs Kim Fredman Stein, Ross Robinson, and Cassandra Smith are funded by the NHS DClinPsy Training Programme. Dr. Gemma Taylor and Ms. Katherine Sawyer are funded by Cancer Research UK (Population Researcher Postdoctoral Fellowship award (C56067/A21330).

Funding Information:
GT has received funding from Pfizer for a project unrelated to this.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022, The Author(s).

Keywords

  • Alcohol
  • Depression
  • Meta-analysis
  • Systematic review
  • Young people

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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