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The effects of supportive care interventions on depressive symptoms among patients with lung cancer: A metaanalysis of randomized controlled studies

  • Chia-Chen Hsieh (a1) and Fei-Hsiu Hsiao (a1)



Our aim was to examine the effect of supportive care interventions on depressive symptoms in patients with lung cancer.


We searched the databases of the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials (CENTRAL), Ovid EMBASE, PubMed, and the Chinese Electronic Periodical Services (CEPS) from their inception until September of 2015. We included randomized controlled trial studies that compared standard care with supportive care interventions. The standardized mean difference (SMD) (Cohen's d) was calculated to estimate the effect of interventions. Subgroup analysis was conducted to identify possible sources of heterogeneity.


A total of 1,472 patients with lung cancer were identified. Compared with standard care, the overall effects of all supportive care interventions significantly reduced depressive symptoms (SMD = –0.74, CI 95% = –1.07 to –0.41), and the effects could be maintained at weeks 4, 8, and 12 of follow-up. Three types of supportive care interventions were identified: psychotherapy combined with psychoeducation, psychoeducation alone, and an exercise program. Both psychotherapy combined with psychoeducation and exercise significantly improved depressive symptoms, while psychoeducation alone did not yield significant effects. The moderating effects indicated that greater improvements in depressive symptoms were found in lung cancer patients with a severe level of depressive symptoms at baseline.

Significance of results:

Personalized supportive care interventions can be developed based on the main causes of depressive symptoms. Psychotherapy combined with psychoeducation can target the causes of depressive symptoms, including both physical distress and psychological trauma due to lung cancer, while exercise programs can effectively improve depressive symptoms for lung cancer patients with impaired respiratory function.


Corresponding author

Address correspondence and reprint requests to: Fei-Hsiu Hsiao, School of Nursing, College of Medicine, National Taiwan University, No. 1, Jen-Ai Road, Section 1, Taipei, Taiwan. E-mail:


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