Traditional Chinese medicine–based integrated health interventions for depression: A systematic review and meta-analysis

Jiayin Ruan, Shucheng Chen, Jiagui Liang, Fiona Yan Yee Ho, Teris Cheung, Janice Yuen Shan Ho, Wai Chi Chan, Haiyong Chen, Dennis Cheuk Wing Au, Rebecca Wing Yan Lee, Yim Wah Mak, Wing Fai Yeung

Research output: Journal article publicationReview articleAcademic researchpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Background: Some traditional Chinese medicine (TCM)–based integrated health interventions have been used for depression, but pooled efficacy remains unknown. Aims and Objectives: This study aimed to systematically evaluate the efficacy of TCM-based integrated health interventions for relieving depression. Design: Systematic review and meta-analysis. Methods: A comprehensive literature search was conducted on 17 databases from inception up to June 2022. Randomised controlled trials (RCTs) that examined an integrated health intervention based on TCM theory for depression were included. The risk of bias was assessed using the second version of the Cochrane risk-of-bias tool for randomised trials, and the quality of evidence was evaluated using the Grading of Recommendations, Assessment, Development and Evaluation system. Results: Eighteen RCTs with a total of 1448 depressed participants were included. Health care providers, mainly nurses (14 studies), implemented TCM-based integrated health interventions. The pooled results showed that TCM-based integrated health interventions had larger effects on reducing depressive symptoms (15 studies; standardised mean difference = −2.05; 95% CI: −2.74, −1.37; p <.00001) compared with usual care at posttreatment but showed no significant difference contrasted to cognitive behavioural therapy (two studies, p =.31). However, the overall evidence was low. Conclusions: The meta-analysis results indicated that TCM-based integrated health interventions were effective in reducing depression. However, the results should be interpreted with caution because of the low quality of the included studies. Future RCTs with rigorous designs should be conducted to provide robust evidence of the efficacy of TCM-based integrated health interventions in treating depression. Relevance to clinical practice: TCM-based integrated health interventions might be a potentially effective alternative for depression. Nurses could play an important role in designing and providing TCM-based integrated nursing interventions for patients with depression. No patient or public contribution: This is a systematic review and meta-analysis based on data from previous studies.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Clinical Nursing
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2023


  • complementary therapies
  • depression
  • integrative medicine
  • lifestyle
  • meta-analysis
  • randomised controlled trial
  • systematic review

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Nursing


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