A scoping review of the literature on the application and usefulness of the Problem Management Plus (PM+) intervention around the world

Patrick N. Mwangala, Millicent Makandi, Anita Kerubo, Moses K. Nyongesa, Amina Abubakar

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Background Given the high rates of common mental disorders and limited resources, task-shifting psychosocial interventions are needed to provide adequate care. One such intervention developed by the World Health Organization is Problem Management Plus (PM+). Aims This review maps the evidence regarding the extent of application and usefulness of the PM+ intervention, i.e. adaptability, feasibility, effectiveness and scalability, since it was introduced in 2016. Method We conducted a scoping review of seven literature databases and grey literature from January 2015 to February 2024, to identify peer-reviewed and grey literature on PM+ around the world. Results Out of 6739 potential records, 42 met the inclusion criteria. About 60% of the included studies were from low- and middle-income countries. Findings from pilot/feasibility trials demonstrated that PM+ is feasible, acceptable and safe. Results from definitive randomised controlled trials at short-term follow-up also suggested that PM+ is effective, with overall moderate-to-large effect sizes, in improving symptoms of common mental health problems. Although PM+ was more effective in reducing symptoms of common mental disorders, it was found to be costlier compared to usual care in the only study that evaluated its cost-effectiveness. Conclusions Our findings indicate that PM+, in its individual and group formats, can be adapted and effectively delivered by trained helpers to target a wide range of common mental health concerns. More effectiveness and implementation evidence is required to understand the long-term impact of PM+, its cost-effectiveness and scalability, and moderators of treatment outcomes such as gender and delivery formats.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere91
JournalBJPsych Open
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 23 Apr 2024


  • Problem Management Plus (PM+)
  • common mental disorders
  • mental health services
  • psychosocial interventions
  • scoping review


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