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Description: Recent meta-analyses come to conflicting conclusions about the efficacy of long-term psychoanalytic psychotherapy (LTPP). Our first goal was to reproduce the most recent meta-analysis by Leichsenring, Abbass, Luyten, Hilsenroth, and Rabung (2013) who found evidence for the efficacy of LTPP in the treatment of complex mental disorders. Our replicated effect sizes were in general slightly smaller. Second, we conducted an updated meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials comparing LTPP (lasting for at least one year and 40 sessions) to other forms of psychotherapy in the treatment of complex mental disorders. We focused on a transparent research process according to open science standards and applied a series of elaborated meta-analytic procedures to test and control for publication bias. Our updated meta-analysis comprising 191 effect sizes from 14 eligible studies revealed small, statistically significant effect sizes at post-treatment for the outcome domains psychiatric symptoms, target problems, social functioning, and overall effectiveness (Hedges’ g ranging between 0.24 and 0.35). The effect size for the domain personality functioning (0.24) was not significant (p = .08). No signs for publication bias could be detected. In light of a heterogeneous study set and some methodological shortcomings in the primary studies, these results should be interpreted cautiously. In conclusion, LTPP might be superior to other forms of psychotherapy in the treatment of complex mental disorders. Notably, our effect sizes represent the additional gain of LTPP vs. other forms of primarily long-term psychotherapy. In this case, large differences in effect sizes are not to be expected.

License: CC-By Attribution 4.0 International


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