Depressie verminderen met een schrijfopdracht: zou het zo simpel kunnen zijn?
Ditshuizen, E. van
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Background: Present study examined whether a 'social belonging' school intervention (Walton & Cohen, 2011) in adolescents reduced depressive symptoms after five months compared with adolescents without an intervention. Furthermore, the repetition of the intervention was investigated for a possible additional effect. This study also examined whether the intervention increased school performance of adolescents. The second main question of this study focused on possible explanatory factors, which play a role in the gender difference in effectiveness of the intervention. Methods: In this study, 194 high school students from 13 to 16 years participated, which were assigned to the intervention group with a writing assignment, control group with a writing assignment or the control group without a writing assignment. Results: There was a decrease in depressive symptoms for girls in the intervention group and the control group with a writing assignment in comparison with girls in the control group without a writing assignment. The boys in the three groups did not show a difference in depression. There was none additional effect after repeating the intervention. For school performance, there was only an effect of both writing assignments on the language courses. Both boys and girls in the intervention group and girls in the control group with writing assignment had improved grades. The study also investigated the explanatory factors underlying the gender difference in effectiveness of the intervention on depression. ‘Social belonging’ and ‘need to belong’ are no mediators of the gender difference in effectiveness of the writing assignments. No indications were found that the effective features of the writing assignment mediated the gender differences in effectiveness. Furthermore, the gender difference in the effectiveness of the intervention is partly explained by the higher initial level of depression. Discussion: In conclusion, the writing assignments did have an effect on depression and school performance. ‘Social belonging’, ‘need to belong’ and use of characteristics from the writings assignments were not mediators of the effectiveness of the writing assignments. The initial level of depression partly explained this gender difference in effectiveness. Further research is needed to investigate why the control group with a writing assignment showed similar results to the intervention group, why only in girls and an explanation for the gender differences in effectiveness.