International Journal of Behavioral Medicine

, Volume 21, Issue 1, pp 109–121 | Cite as

Psychological Interventions for Coronary Heart Disease: Cochrane Systematic Review and Meta-analysis

  • Ben Whalley
  • David R. Thompson
  • Rod S. Taylor



Depression and anxiety are common in cardiac patients, and psychological interventions may also be used as part of general cardiac rehabilitation programs.


This study aims to estimate effects of psychological interventions on mortality and psychological symptoms in this group, updating an existing Cochrane Review.


Systematic review and meta-regression analyses of randomized trials evaluating a psychological treatment delivered by trained staff to patients with a diagnosed cardiac disease, with a follow-up of at least 6 months, were used.


There was no strong evidence that psychological intervention reduced total deaths, risk of revascularization, or non-fatal infarction. Psychological intervention did result in small/moderate improvements in depression and anxiety, and there was a small effect for cardiac mortality.


Psychological treatments appear effective in treating patients with psychological symptoms of coronary heart disease. Uncertainty remains regarding the subgroups of patients who would benefit most from treatment and the characteristics of successful interventions.


Coronary heart disease Psychological interventions Cardiac rehabilitation Secondary prevention Systematic review Meta-analysis 



We would like to acknowledge all the authors who provided additional information on request and Cornelia Junghans for Russian and German translations. Ben Whalley was supported by an ESRC fellowship (PTA-026-27-2113). We also wish to acknowledge the authors of the original Cochrane review as follows: Karen Rees, Division of Health Sciences, Warwick Medical School, University of Warwick, Coventry, UK; Philippa Davies, Academic Unit of Psychiatry, School of Social and Community Medicine, University of Bristol, Bristol, UK; Paul Bennett, Department of Psychology, University of Swansea, Swansea, UK; Shah Ebrahim, Department of Non-communicable Disease Epidemiology, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, London, UK; Zulian Liu, Peninsula Medical School, University of Exeter, Exeter, UK; Robert West, Wales Heart Research Institute, Cardiff University, Cardiff, UK; and Tiffany Moxham, Wimberly Library, Florida Atlantic University, Boca Raton, Florida, USA. The study was funded by a UK National Institute for Health Research Cochrane Programme Grant (CPG510).

Conflict of Interest



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Copyright information

© International Society of Behavioral Medicine 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ben Whalley
    • 1
  • David R. Thompson
    • 2
  • Rod S. Taylor
    • 3
  1. 1.School of PsychologyUniversity of PlymouthPlymouthUK
  2. 2.Cardiovascular Research Centre (CvRC)Australian Catholic UniversityMelbourneAustralia
  3. 3.Peninsula College of Medicine and DentistryUniversities of Exeter and PlymouthExeterUK

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