Psychological interventions for people affected by childhood-onset heart disease: A systematic review

Stephanie Tesson, Phyllis N. Butow, Gary F. Sholler, Louise Sharpe, Adrienne H. Kovacs, Nadine A. Kasparian

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

27 Scopus citations


Objective: Guidelines recommend psychological intervention for children, adolescents, and adults with childhood-onset heart disease and their families, yet a comprehensive review of interventions is lacking. We aimed to determine the efficacy of psychological interventions for this population. Method: We searched 6 electronic databases until August, 2017 for English-language, controlled trials of psychological interventions for children, adolescents, or adults with congenital heart disease, inherited arrhythmias, or cardiomyopathies, or their family members. Outcomes of interest included: anxiety, depression, psychological stress and distress, health-related quality of life, coping and adjustment, developmental outcomes, physical health, and parent and family outcomes. Results: Of 7,660 identified articles, 11 articles reporting on 9 unique interventions met inclusion criteria. Four interventions included adolescents or adults with congenital heart disease, 2 of which also included individuals with cardiomyopathies, valvular heart conditions, or inherited arrhythmias. Five interventions targeted parents, predominantly mothers, of children with congenital heart disease. Clinical and methodological diversity was observed across trials. Parent-focused interventions demonstrated some improvements in maternal mental health, including anxiety and worry, coping, and family functioning. Evidence for the efficacy of interventions for adolescents and adults was limited. Most trials (8/9) were at "high" or "serious" risk of bias. Conclusions: Despite an established evidence-base for psychological interventions in other chronic illness populations, evidence of efficacy for children and adults with childhood-onset heart disease and their families was limited. Interventions using conceptual frameworks tested in methodologically robust trials are needed to enhance the provision of mental health care for people of all ages with childhood-onset heart disease.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)151-161
Number of pages11
JournalHealth Psychology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2019


  • anxiety
  • arrhythmia
  • cardiomyopathy
  • congenital heart disease
  • psychological intervention

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Applied Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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