Supplementary Material for: The Efficacy of Light Therapy in the Treatment of Seasonal Affective Disorder: A Meta-Analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials

Background: Bright light therapy (BLT) has been used as a treatment for seasonal affective disorder (SAD) for over 30 years. This meta-analysis was aimed to assess the efficacy of BLT in the treatment of SAD in adults. Method: We performed a systematic literature search including randomized, single- or double-blind clinical trials investigating BLT (≥1,000 lx, light box or light visor) against dim light (≤400 lx) or sham/low-density negative ion generators as placebo. Only first-period data were used from crossover trials. The primary outcome was the post-treatment depression score measured by validated scales, and the secondary outcome was the rate of response to treatment. Results: A total of 19 studies finally met our predefined inclusion criteria. BLT was superior over placebo with a standardized mean difference of –0.37 (95% CI: –0.63 to –0.12) for depression ratings (18 studies, 610 patients) and a risk ratio of 1.42 (95% CI: 1.08–1.85) for response to active treatment (16 studies, 559 patients). We found no evidence for a publication bias, but moderate heterogeneity of the studies and a moderate-to-high risk of bias. Conclusions: BLT can be regarded as an effective treatment for SAD, but the available evidence stems from methodologically heterogeneous studies with small-to-medium sample sizes, necessitating larger high-quality clinical trials.