Efficacy of culturally adapted interventions for common mental disorders in people of Chinese descent: a systematic review and meta-analysis

Elsevier, The Lancet Psychiatry, Volume 10, June 2023
Li S., Xi Z., Barnett P., Saunders R., Shafran R., Pilling S.
Background: Evidence suggests that culturally adapted psychological interventions have some benefits in treating diverse ethnic groups. However, the effect of such cultural adaptions specifically in Chinese ethnic groups has not been thoroughly reviewed. We aimed to systematically assess the evidence for the efficacy of different cultural adaptations in treating common mental disorders in people of Chinese descent (ie, ethnic Chinese populations). Methods: In this systematic review and meta-analysis, we searched MEDLINE, Embase, PsycINFO, CNKI, and WANFANG to identify randomised controlled trials published in English and Chinese from database inception to March 10, 2023. We included trials of culturally adapted psychological interventions in people of Chinese descent (with at least 80% of Han Chinese descent) aged 15 years or older with a diagnosis or subthreshold symptoms of common mental disorders, including depression, anxiety disorders, and post-traumatic stress disorder. We excluded studies that included participants with severe mental disorders (eg, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder), neurodevelopmental disorders, or dementia. Study selection and data extraction were done by two independent reviewers, who extracted data for study characteristics, cultural adaptations, and summary efficacy. The primary outcome was post-intervention change in symptoms (both self-reported and clinician-rated). We used random-effects models to calculate standardised mean differences. Quality was assessed using the Cochrane risk of bias tool. The study is registered with PROSPERO (CRD42021239607). Findings: We identified 32 791 records, 67 of which were included in our meta-analysis (60 done in mainland China, four in Hong Kong, and one each in Taiwan, Australia, and the USA). We included 6199 participants (mean age 39·32 years [range 16–84]), of whom 2605 (42%) were male and 3247 (52%) were female. Culturally adapted interventions had medium effect sizes in terms of reducing both self-reported (Hedges’ g 0·77 [95% CI 0·61–0·94]; I2 84%) and clinician-rated (0·75 [0·54–0·96]; 86%) symptom severity across all disorders at end of treatment, irrespective of adaptation types. We noted no difference in efficacy between culturally modified interventions and culturally specific interventions. Subgroup analyses showed considerable heterogeneity. Inadequate reporting in included studies largely restricted risk-of-bias appraisals across all domains. Interpretation: Psychological interventions can be transported across cultures with appropriate modifications. Adaptations to interventions can be made by modifying evidence-based interventions, or in culturally specific ways that are rooted in the sociocultural context. However, findings are limited by the insufficient reporting of interventions and cultural adaptations. Funding: None. Translation: For the Chinese translation of the abstract see Supplementary Materials section.