A systematic review and meta-analysis of psychological interventions to improve mental wellbeing

Joep van Agteren, Matthew Iasiello, Laura Lo, Jonathan Bartholomaeus, Zoe Kopsaftis, Marissa Carey, Michael Kyrios

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

184 Citations (Scopus)


Our current understanding of the efficacy of psychological interventions in improving mental states of wellbeing is incomplete. This study aimed to overcome limitations of previous reviews by examining the efficacy of distinct types of psychological interventions, irrespective of their theoretical underpinning, and the impact of various moderators, in a unified systematic review and meta-analysis. Four-hundred-and-nineteen randomized controlled trials from clinical and non-clinical populations (n = 53,288) were identified for inclusion. Mindfulness-based and multi-component positive psychological interventions demonstrated the greatest efficacy in both clinical and non-clinical populations. Meta-analyses also found that singular positive psychological interventions, cognitive and behavioural therapy-based, acceptance and commitment therapy-based, and reminiscence interventions were impactful. Effect sizes were moderate at best, but differed according to target population and moderator, most notably intervention intensity. The evidence quality was generally low to moderate. While the evidence requires further advancement, the review provides insight into how psychological interventions can be designed to improve mental wellbeing.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)631-652
Number of pages22
JournalNature Human Behaviour
Issue number5
Early online date19 Apr 2021
Publication statusPublished - May 2021


  • Disease prevention
  • Medical humanities
  • Outcomes research
  • Quality of Life
  • efficacy of psychological interventions
  • improving mental states of wellbeing


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