Depression is more prevalent in women than men, and some types of depression, like perinatal, postpartum and perimenopausal depression, can only be experienced by women. Access to depression treatments are sometimes limited, especially for those coming from low income backgrounds. Therefore, it is critical to try and document the effectiveness of depression treatments as they are used with low income women. This summer, I joined Professor Jacqueline Corcoran on this endeavour and developed a systematic review of depression treatment effectiveness for low-income women.
Our project was broken up into several sections. First, we proceeded to gather articles from seven different databases - SCOPUS, Sociological Abstracts, PubMed, Embase, CINAHL, Dissertations Abstracts, and PsycInfo. Articles had to fit the following criteria to be included: women had to have depression and be 18 years and older, women had to be assessed as low income and this had to be specified in the study, the articles, or “hits”, had to be of randomized controlled trials or quasi-experimental studies, a treatment for depression had to be being tested in the trial, and the primary outcome measure of depression must be studied. From each database, we looked at the title and abstract of every article that was produced, and checked to see, based on the title and abstract alone, if the article fit our criteria. Each hit was documented in an Excel spreadsheet, regardless of if it was a match or not. The Excel database also included information regarding the apa citation of the study, the country in which the trial took place, and whether or not the complete article was reviewed. If it was uncertain whether an article was a match based on the title and abstract alone, it was reviewed at full text by Prof. Corcoran. In total, we documented over 1,300 studies.
After creating the Excel database, we created a flowchart to document the number of studies reviewed at each stage. We also reported the final number of accepted studies, which was about 23. An 8 section google form was then created to record these studies. The form included sections regarding study background, participant’s demographics, and outcomes. To get to the final 23, a working google document had to be created and constantly updated as studies were reviewed and re-reviewed to check for criteria.
Participating in this study absolutely taught me so much. Practically, I became more skilled in microsoft word, excel, google forms and google pages. I also learned how to interpret and analyze academic articles and articles on randomized controlled trials or quasi-experimental studies. This taught me a lot in regards to understanding tables and graphs, reading appropriate jargon, and then communicating the importance of both in a clear and concise way. This will help me in my educational journey, as participating in such an extensive, detail-attentive study will sharpen my skills for future tasks that require meticulous documentation.