Influence of motivational placebo-related factors on the effects of exercise treatment in depressive adolescents

Publikationen: Beitrag in FachzeitschriftZeitschriftenaufsätzeForschungBegutachtung


  • Heidrun Lioba Wunram
  • Stefanie Hamacher
  • Max Oberste
  • Susanne Neufang
  • Luisa Belke
  • Franziska Jänicke
  • Christine Graf
  • Eckhard Schönau
  • Stephan Bender
  • Oliver Fricke



Recent meta-analyses reveal a moderate effect of physical activity (PA) in the treatment of adolescent depression. However, not only the underlying neurobiological mechanisms, also the influences of placebo-related motivational factors (beliefs and expectancies in sporting, enjoyment and prior sports experiences), are still unclear. Based on the data of our prior study "Mood Vibes", we hypothesized that placebo-inherent factors like positive prior sports experiences and motivational factors, (positive beliefs, expectancies, and enjoyment related to PA), would increase the effects of an add-on exercise-therapy in juvenile depression. From 64 included depressed adolescents, 41 underwent an intensive add-on PA-therapy. Motivational factors were assessed using sport-specific scales. The changes in depression scores under treatment were rated by self-rating scale (German "Childhood Depression Inventory", (DIKJ)). A mixed model for repeated measures (MMRM) was used to analyze the effects of the different motivational variates on DIKJ. While prior sports experiences had no impact, motivational factors showed a significant effect on PA-induced changes in DIKJ scores (p = 0.002). The demotivated participants improved less, whereas it was sufficient to be neutral towards sporting to benefit significantly more. Motivational placebo-related factors (beliefs, expectancies and enjoyment regarding PA) affected the outcomes of an exercise treatment in depressed adolescents. Yet, a neutral mindset was sufficient to profit more from PA. Prior sporting in the sense of positive conditioning and as a protective factor did not play a role. Knowledge about these influences could in a second step help to develop tailored therapies.

ZeitschriftEuropean child & adolescent psychiatry
PublikationsstatusElektronische Veröffentlichung vor Drucklegung. - 12.03.2021

ID: 5908353


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