Acceptance and commitment therapy – do we know enough? Cumulative and sequential meta-analyses of randomized controlled trials

Thomas Hacker, Paul Stone, Angus Macbeth

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) has accrued a substantial evidence base. Recent systematic and meta-analytic reviews suggest that ACT is effective compared to control conditions. However, these reviews appraise the efficacy of ACT across a broad range of presenting problems, rather than addressing specific common mental health difficulties. Focussing on depression and anxiety we performed a meta-analysis of trials of ACT. We incorporated sequential meta-analysis (SMA) techniques to critically appraise the sufficiency of the existing evidence base. Findings suggest that ACT demonstrates at least moderate group and pre-post effects for symptom reductions for both anxiety and depression. However using SMA findings are more qualified. There is currently insufficient evidence to confidently conclude that ACT for anxiety is efficacious when compared to active control conditions or as primary treatment for anxiety. Similarly, using SMA, there is currently insufficient evidence to suggest a moderate efficacy of ACT for depression compared to active control conditions. To stimulate further research we offer specific estimates of additional numbers of participants required to reach sufficiency to help inform future studies. We also discuss the appropriate strategies for future research into ACT for anxiety given the current evidence suggests no differential efficacy of ACT in the treatment of anxiety compared to active control conditions.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)551-565
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of affective disorders
Volume190
Early online date30 Oct 2015
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2015

Keywords

  • Sequential meta analysis
  • Acceptance and commitment therapy
  • MENTAL-HEALTH
  • treatment efficacy
  • ANXIETY
  • DEPRESSION

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