Social interventions: An effective approach to reduce adult depression?

Emma Nagy*, Spencer Moore

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

17 Citations (Scopus)


Background Social interventions that aim to facilitate bonds and interaction among individuals could reduce depression at a population level; yet, the scope and effectiveness of these interventions remain unclear. This systematic review classifies and reports on social interventions that have been implemented to target depression in adults. Methods Search terms related to ‘intervention’, ‘depression’, and ‘social’ were entered into databases, including: The Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, MEDLINE, Embase, PsycInfo, CINAHL, and TRoPHI. Inclusion criteria included: (1) depression was an intervention outcome, (2) depression was not attributable to concomitant illnesses or circumstances (e.g., chronic illness or exposure to natural disasters), (3) the intervention facilitated social interaction, (4) the intervention targeted adults (18–64), (5) the sample was community-based, (6) the study was available in English, and (7) within-group or between-group comparison group information was available. Results Of the 24 studies meeting the inclusion criteria, 17 reported reductions in depressive symptoms. Social interventions often incorporated multiple strategies to improve depressive symptoms, including: peer support (n=17), skill building (n=11), group-based activities (n =11), psycho-education (n =9), psychotherapy (n =5), exercise (n =5), and links to community resources (n=3). Limitations Findings of this review may not be generalizable to specific population subgroups with depression, including those who have chronic illnesses or postpartum depression. Conclusions Various types of social interventions can be effective in reducing adult depression. Social interventions can be tailored to diverse groups, are feasible in resource-scarce communities, and have the potential to reduce population-level depression due to their group formats.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)131-152
Number of pages22
JournalJournal of Affective Disorders
Publication statusPublished - 15 Aug 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • Depression
  • Intervention
  • Mental health
  • Population health
  • Public health
  • Social


Dive into the research topics of 'Social interventions: An effective approach to reduce adult depression?'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this