A bayesian network meta-analysis to explore modifying factors in randomized controlled trials: what works for whom to reduce depression in nursing home residents?

Ine J.N. Declercq*, Ruslan Leontjevas, Peter Verboon, Patricia De Vriendt, Debby L. Gerritsen, Susan van Hooren

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Background: Reviews of depression interventions in nursing home residents resulted in positive findings. However, because of the heterogeneity of the studies, it remains unclear what works for whom. Considering moderator effects may contribute to a comprehensive understanding of depression treatment in residents. Therefore, this study aims to review depression interventions, examining moderator effects of (1) residents’ factors, and (2) components specific of interventions. Methods: A Bayesian network meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials primarily aimed at reducing depressive symptoms among residents was conducted. First, intervention types, e.g., exercise interventions, were compared to care as usual. Second, meta-regression analyses were conducted for moderator effects of residents’ factors (i.e., severity of depressive symptoms, physical dependency, and cognitive impairment) and components identified as specific to an intervention (e.g., music, creativity, positivity). Results: Our search across six databases resulted in 118 eligible studies: 16 on neurobiological interventions, 102 on non-pharmacological interventions. Compared to care as usual, cognitive interventions, such as cognitive behavioral therapy and goal-oriented therapy, showed the strongest effects (MD = -1.00, 95% CrI [-1.40 to -0.66]). Furthermore, the severity of depressive symptoms moderated the effect of interventions (ƅ = -0.63, CrI 95% [-1.04 to -0.22]), while none of fifteen identified intervention-specific components did. In residents with a depression diagnosis, there were larger effect sizes for interventions including daily structure, psychoeducation, healthy food, creativity, positivity, and an activating/encouraging environment, whereas interventions focusing on distraction and relaxation had larger effect sizes in those residents without. Conclusions: By examining the moderator effects, we provided an integrative perspective on the observed variations in effects across different target groups, and components of depression interventions. This approach underscores the complex nature of interventions, emphasizing the need for continued transdisciplinary research, and the exploration of potential moderators. Future investigations should carefully assess residents’ factors and choose interventions and their components accordingly.

Original languageEnglish
Article number518
Pages (from-to)1-14
Number of pages14
JournalBMC Geriatrics
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2024


  • Depressive symptoms
  • Long-term care
  • Meta-analysis
  • Meta-regression analyses
  • Moderator effects
  • Nursing home


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