Kan een social belonging interventie depressieve symptomen verminderen door het veranderen van negatieve attributies?
Geest, D.K. van
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Background: Present study examined whether a social belonging intervention, aimed at changing attribution of negative events in terms of not belonging, was effective in reducing depressive symptoms in adolescents 13 to 16 years old. This study also examined whether the intervention increased the school performance of adolescents. A possible boost-effect after repetition of the intervention, in spoken version, is also examined. Furthermore, this study investigates whether social belonging and/or a change in attributions (i.e. the amount of daily negative events, the appreciation how important the events were, rejection sensitivity (measured with facial expressions and situations) and the correlation between negative events and social belonging) were mediators in the effect of the intervention on depression. Methods: The intervention, a writing exercise, is an adapted version of the social belonging intervention of Walton en Cohen (2011). The participants (N = 194, M = 14.3 years) were assigned to one of three groups; the intervention group (N = 61, M = 14.11), the control group with a control writing assignment (N = 65, M =14.30) or the control group without a writing assignment (N = 68, M = 14.5). Results: After five months the girls in the intervention group and the girls in the control group with a writing assignment showed a lower depression score in comparison with the scores of the control group without a writing assignment. The boys in the three groups did not show a difference in depression. Repeating the intervention and control assignment in an adapted form did not have an additional effect on depressive symptoms. For school performance, only an effect of both writing assignments was found on grades for language. Both boys and girls in the intervention group and girls in the control group with a writing assignment had improved grades. No indications were found that the writing assignments changed attribution as operationalised in this study. Social belonging also was not a mediator for explaining the effectiveness of the writing assignments. Discussion: In conclusion, the writing assignments did have an effect on depression and school performance. Both social belonging and changed attributions were not mediators for explaining the effectiveness of the writing assignments on depression and school performance on the language course. Further research should determine why this effect was found only in girls, why similar effects were found for the intervention and the control writing assignment and how the writing assignments work.