Background: The medical benefits of the implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD) are unequivocal, but a subgroup of patients experiences emotional difficulties following implantation. For this subgroup, some form of psychological intervention may be warranted. This review provides an overview of current evidence on the efficacy of psychological intervention in ICD patients and recommendations for future research. Methods: We searched the PubMed and PsycInfo databases in the period between January 1980 and April 2007, using a set of a priori determined keywords. Based on the search and a hand search of the reference lists of the included articles, we identified nine studies that fulfilled the inclusion criteria. Results: The majority of studies used a randomized controlled trial design, but studies varied considerably in sample size, response, attrition rate, and type of intervention. However, most interventions were multifactorial, using cognitive behavioral therapy as one of the mainstays of treatment. Overall, psychological interventions seem to have little impact on shocks and heart rate variability. Some studies found a decrease in depressive symptoms and gains in quality of life, but the most notable effects are seen in improved exercise capacity and reductions in anxiety. Effect sizes for changes in anxiety in the intervention group ranged from small to large compared to small in the usual care group, using Cohen's effect size index. Conclusions: Preliminary evidence from small-scale intervention trials suggests that psychological intervention is worthwhile in ICD patients. Nevertheless, large-scale, well-designed trials are warranted to substantiate these findings. A multifactorial approach using a cognitive behavioral component paired with exercise training is likely to be the most successful.

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Pacing and Clinical Electrophysiology
Erasmus MC: University Medical Center Rotterdam

Pedersen, S., van den Broek, K., & Sears, S., Jr. (2007). Psychological intervention following implantation of an implantable defibrillator: A review and future recommendations. Pacing and Clinical Electrophysiology (Vol. 30, pp. 1546–1554). doi:10.1111/j.1540-8159.2007.00905.x