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Review: befriending modestly reduces depressive symptoms in varied populations

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Is befriending effective in the treatment of depressive symptoms?


Primary outcome: depressive symptoms; secondary outcome: perceived social support.



Systematic review with meta-analysis.

Data sources

MEDLINE, EMBASE, PsycINFO, Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials (CENTRAL), CINAHL (nursing), Campbell Collaboration Register (SPECTR-C2 and SRPOC), Web of Knowledge, National Research Register, PsiTri (Register of Clinical Trials in Mental Health), International Standard Randomised Controlled Trial Registry, Meta Trials Register and the Department of Health Research Findings Register were searched in July-August 2007, with an update in April 2008. Hand searching of reference lists of relevant studies was also carried out.

Study selection and analysis

Randomised controlled trials looking at the effects of befriending on depressive symptoms on participants living in the community were included. Included studies could compare befriending with usual care, no treatment or active treatments (including other types of befriending, medications or psychological treatments). Participants were not required to have a diagnosis of depression or specific baseline levels of distress to be included in the study. Befriending was defined as the introduction of one or more volunteer or paid individuals who provided social support through the development …

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  • Source of funding National Institute of Health Research.


  • Competing interests None

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