Reconsidering what makes syntheses of psychological intervention studies useful

John K. Sakaluk*, Carm De Santis, Robyn Kilshaw, Merle Marie Pittelkow, Cassandra M. Brandes, Cassandra L. Boness, Yevgeny Botanov, Alexander J. Williams, Dennis C. Wendt, Lorenzo Lorenzo-Luaces, Jessica Schleider, Don van Ravenzwaaij

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Syntheses of literature on psychological interventions have defined the state of knowledge and helped to identify evidence-based practices for researchers, practitioners, educators and policymakers. Nevertheless, it is complicated to appraise the usefulness of syntheses owing to long-standing methodological issues and the rapid rate of research production. In this Perspective, we examine how syntheses of psychological interventions could be more useful. We argue that syntheses should move beyond the myopic lens of intervention impact based on a one-time, contested selection of literature and comprehensible only to intensively trained readers. Rather, syntheses should become ‘living’ documents that integrate data on intervention impact, consistency, research credibility and sampling inclusivity, all of which must then be presented in a modular way that is also accessible to people of limited expertise. Although existing resources make pursuit of this goal possible, reaching it will require a dramatic change in the ways in which psychologists collaborate and in which syntheses are conducted, disseminated and institutionally supported.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)569-583
Number of pages15
JournalNature Reviews Psychology
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2023

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychology (miscellaneous)
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology


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