The Use of Technology in the Clinical Care of Depression: An Evidence Map


Objective: Depression is a highly prevalent clinical condition. The use of technologies in the clinical care of depressive disorders may increase the reach of clinical services for these disorders and support more comprehensive treatment. The objective of this evidence map is to provide an overview of the use of technology in the clinical care of depression.

Data Sources: The authors searched PubMed, PsycINFO, and the Web of Science from inception to June 2017 to identify published randomized controlled trials (RCTs).

Study Selection: Two reviewers used predetermined eligibility criteria to review 4,062 records and include 161 RCTs that met our inclusion criteria. We include studies evaluating any type of treatment-related technology in the clinical care of depression.

Data Extraction: We extracted data on sample sizes, the type of technology examined, the function of that technology, the effectiveness of the technology, and publication year.

Results: Out of 161 RCTs, we found the greatest amount of research for psychotherapy by computer (51 RCTs). The majority of studies were published after 2012 (94 RCTs; 58%). Few published studies involved videoconferences or smartphones, or provider feedback or auto-reminders. 145 studies (90%) reported that the intervention had a positive outcome of symptom improvement compared to baseline.

Conclusions: This evidence map provides a broad overview of the existing research evaluating technology in depression care. Computer applications are still most common. Almost all applications yield symptom improvement. More information is needed to evaluate the role of technology in clinical care.