On the efficacy of the unified protocol for transdiagnostic treatment of emotional disorders: A systematic review and meta-analysis

On the efficacy of the unified protocol for transdiagnostic treatment of emotional disorders: A systematic review and meta-analysis

Carlucci, L. Saggino, A. Balsamo, M.
Clinical Psychology Review
87 (no pagination)
In recent years a large array of treatment protocols conceptualized as transdiagnostic have been developed with clinical and practical advantages compared to traditional single-disorder protocols. Within this panorama, the Transdiagnostic Unified Protocol (UP) of Emotional Disorders was developed aimed at treating the negative affective processes underlying several diagnostic categories, and accounting for the covariance of different emotional disorders. The UP has been found to efficiently target the roots of these disorders leading to a reduction in symptoms of co-occurring disorders. However, several questions have marginally addressed in the previous studies, and some UP features still remain unexplored. The present meta-analysis aims at evaluating whether the UP results to significant changes in anxiety and depression symptoms severity in children, adolescents, and adults. 19 RCTs and 13 uncontrolled pre-post trials comprising 2183 patients/clients met inclusion criteria for meta-analysis. Large to moderate combined overall effect size for both depression plus anxiety were detected in the uncontrolled pre-post studies (g = 0.756) and in RTCs studies (g = 0.452), respectively. Large effect size at pre-treatment to 3-6-month follow-up was observed for combined depression plus anxiety (g = 1.113). Subgroup analysis suggested that UP treatment does not differ across the anxiety and depression self-report measures. Moreover, UP intervention outperformed both passive and active control conditions to treat negative affective syndromes. Meta-regression confirmed the moderate effects of therapist level of experience, the sample characteristics, and the UP-protocol adaptations. The findings indicate that the manualized UP treatment has potential to contribute to improving mental health outcomes, particularly of anxiety and depression. Copyright © 2021 Elsevier Ltd

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Type of intervention

Treatment and Child Welfare Interventions


Mental Health Problems and Disorders

Emotional Problems

Depression and Depressed Mood

Anxiety Problems

Anxiety and Anxiousness

Eating Disorders

Other Problems



Psychological Treatments

Psychoeducational Interventions

Age group

Age not specified

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