Table 2

Characteristics of randomized controlled trials examining the effects of positive psychology interventions
Author Intervention Session (number), duration Mean age (range or SD) Delivery Recruitment Self-selection Psychosocial problems / inclusion criteria Control Group N analyzed (post test) Attrition rate, % (post test) Outcome measures Follow-up (min. 3 months)
Abbott 2009 [78] ResilienceOnline 7, 10w 43 Self-help Organization Self-selected None Waiting list Ne=26 Nc=27 41.5% PWB: AHI DEP: DASS-21 -
Boehm 2011 [73] Optimism and gratitude exercise 6, 6w 35.6 (11.4) Self-help Community Self-selected None Placebo Ne=146 Nc=74 ? SWB: SWLS -
Buchanan 2010 [56] Doing acts of kindness 10, 10d 26 (18–60) Self-help University Self-selected None No intervention Ne=28 Nc=28 0% (? nr) SWB: SWLS -
Burton 2004 [64] Writing about positive experiences 3, 3d College-based sample 18.6 (0.95) Self-help University Not self-selected None Placebo Ne=48 Nc=42 0% SWB: PA -
Cheavens 2006 [76] Hope therapy 8, 8w 49 (32–64) Group Community Self-selected Inclusion criteria unclear Waiting list Ne=17 Nc=15 12% 22% T: 18% PWB: SHS DEP: CES-D -
Emmons 2006 study 1 [29] Practising gratitude by counting one’s blessings 10, 10w U (students) Self-help University Not self-selected None Placebo Ne=65 Nc=67 T: 4% SWB: Life as a whole, upcoming week, PA -
Emmons 2006 study 3 [29] Practising gratitude by counting one’s blessings 21, 3w 49 (22–77) Self-help Referral/hospital Not self-selected None No intervention Ne=33 Nc=32 0% (? nr) SWB: Life as a whole, upcoming week, PA (self-report and observed) -
Fava 1998 [82] Well-being therapy 8, 16w 28.4 (6.5) Individual Referral/hospital Self-selected Diagnosis of MDD or AD, succesful response to treatment TAU Ne=10 Nc=10 0% PWB: RPWB DEP: CID, SQ subscale -
Fava 2005 [83] Well-being therapy 8, 16w 41.9 (12) Individual Referral/hospital Self-selected Diagnosis of GAD TAU Ne=8 Nc=8 20% PWB: RPWB DEP: CID, SQ subscale 1 yr (not in study)
Feldman 2012 [60] Hopeful goal-directed thinking 1, 1d 18.7 (18–22) Group University Not self-selected None No intervention Ne=37 Nc=29 24.7% PWB: GSHS, PIL
Frieswijk 2005 [77] Self-management positive bibliotherapy 5, 10w 72.9 (6.2) Self-help Community Self-selected Slightly or moderately frail (>=65 GFI) Waiting list Ne=79 Nc=86 18.4% 10.4% T: 14.5% SWB: SPF-IL PWB: MS 6 m
Gander 2012 [74] 9 exercises: gratitude visit three good things (1 and 2 weeks), strengths, three funny things, social exercises 7, 1w 14, 2w 44.9 (10.07) Self-help Internet, magazine Self-selected None Placebo Ne=559 Nc=63 74% PWB: AHI DEP: CES-D 6 m
Goldstein 2007 [84] Cultivating sacred moments 15, 3w (22–44) Self-help Internet Self-selected None TAU Ne=35 Nc=38 14.6% 9.5% T: 12.0% SWB: SWLS PWB: RPWB -
Grant 2009 [79] Executive coaching 6, 8-10w 49.8 Group and individual Organization Self-selected None Waiting list Ne=21 Nc=20 18% DEP: DASS-21 -
Grant 2012 [85] Solution-focused coaching 1, 1d 20.5 (5.4) Self-help University Self-selected None TAU Ne=117 Nc=108 0% (? nr) SWB: PA -
Green 2006 [33] Life coaching and attainment of goals 10, 10w 42.7 (18–60) Group Community Self-selected None Waiting list Ne=25 Nc=25 10.7% 10.7% T: 10.7% SWB: SWLS, PA PWB: RPWB, SHS -
Hurley 2012 [61] Savoring the moment 14, 2w 19.5 (2.06) Group / Self-help University Not self-selected None No intervention Ne=94 Nc=99 37.7% 39.6% T: 38.7% SWB: PA DEP: BDI -
King 2001 [66] Writing about best possible selves 4, 4d 21 (18–42) Self-help University Not self-selected None Placebo Ne=19 Nc=16 0% SWB: PA -
Kremers 2006 [57] Self-management positive group course 6, 6w 64.3 (7) Group Community Self-selected Single and lonely No intervention Ne=46 Nc=73 17.0% 7.6% T: 16.2% SWB: SPF-IL 6 m
Layous 2012 [75] Best possible selves exercise 4, 4w 19.1 (1.8) Self-help Group University Not self-selected None Placebo Ne=80 Nc=37 ? SWB: PA PWB: NS -
Lichter 1980 study 2 [80] Rehearsal of positive statements 14, 2w U (students) Individual University Not self-selected None Waiting list Ne=25 Nc=23 0% (? nr) SWB: AF1 DEP: BDI -
Luthans 2008 [65] Online well-being program (PsyCap) 2, 2w 32.2 Self-help University Self-selected None Placebo Ne=187 Nc=177 6.0% 4.8% T: 5.5% PWB: PCQ -
Luthans 2010 study 1 [72] PsyCap training 1, 2 h 21.1 (2.66) Group University Not self-selected None Placebo Ne=153 Nc=89) 0% PCQ -
Lyubomirsky 2006 study 2 [58] Thinking about positive life experiences 3, 3d 19.5 (2.6) Self-help University Not self-selected None No intervention Ne=26 Nc=36 0% SWB: SWLS, PA -
Lyubomirsky 2011 [67] Expressing optimism or gratitude 8, 8w 19.7 (18–46) Self-help University Self-selected None Placebo Ne=218 Nc=101 T: 10.1% SWB: PLA, SWLS, SHS(2) 6 m
Martinez 2010 [68] Practising gratitude by counting one’s blessings 14, 2w 20.7 (1.5) Self-help University Not self-selected None Placebo Ne=41 Nc=34 34.0% SWB: PA, GA (self-report and observed) -
Mitchell 2009 [69] Online intervention Use your strenghts in a new way 3, 3w 37 (18–62) Self-help Internet Self-selected None Placebo Ne=48 Nc=54 64.6% 57.4% T: 60.8% SWB: PWI-A, SWLS, PA PWB: OTH DEP: DASS-21 3 m
Page 2012 [62] Working for Wellness Program 6, 6w 39.7 (10.0) Group Organization Self-selected None No intervention Ne=13 Nc=10 58.1% 66.7% T: 62.3% SWB: SWLS, PA PWB: SPWB 6 month
Peters 2010 [70] Positive future thinking 1, 1d 29.7 (21–50) Self-help University Not self-selected None Placebo Ne=44 Nc=38 0% SWB: PA -
Quoidbach 2009 [59] Projecting a positive self in the future 14, 2w 32.5 Self-help University Not self-selected None No intervention Ne=15 Nc=57 T: 49.5% SWB: SHS(2) -
Schueller 2012 [63] Package of 2, 4 or 6 positive psychology exercises (active-constructive responding, gratitude visit, life summary, three good things, savoring, strengths) 14, 2w 28, 4w 42, 6w 42.4 (12.1) Self-help Internet Self-selected None No intervention Ne=457 Nc=204 54.7% 42.5% T: 55.4% DEP: CES-D -
Seligman 2005 [30] Strenghts excercises (2), gratitude (1), positive thinking (2) 7, 1w 64% between5-54 Self-help Internet Self-selected None Placebo Ne=341 Nc=70 T: 28.8% PWB: SHI DEP: CES-D 6 m
Seligman 2006 study 1 [51] Group positive psychotherapy 6, 6w U (students) Group University Self-selected Mild to moderate depressive symptoms (BDI 10–24) No intervention Ne=14 Nc=20 26.3% 4.8% T: 15.0% SWB: SWLS DEP: BDI 3, 6 (in study), 12 m
Seligman 2006 study 2 [51] Individual positive psychotherapy 14, 12w U (adults) Individual Referral/hospital Self-selected Clinical diagnosis of MDD TAU Ne=11 Nc=9 15.4% 40.0% T: 28.6% SWB: SWLS PWB: PPTI DEP: HRSD, ZSRS -
Shapira 2010 [55]; Mongrain 2011 [53]; Sergeant 2011 [54]; Mongrain 2012 [52] Three good things, signature strengths, self-compassion, optimism, compassionate action, gratitude intervention 7, 1w 34 (11.8) Self-help Internet Self-selected None Placebo Ne=804 Nc=138 75% PWB: SHI DEP: CES-D 3 (in study), 6 m
Sheldon 2002 [32] Goal-training program 2, 2w U (students) Group University Not self-selected None Placebo Ne=36 Nc=42 T: 13.3% SWB: PA PWB: RPWB -
Sheldon 2006 [34] Gratitude or visualizing positive self 14, 2w U (students) Self-help University Not self-selected None Placebo Ne=44 Nc=24 T: 6.0% SWB: PA -
Spence 2007 [81] Life coaching and attainment of goals 10, 10w 38.6 Individual Community Self-selected None Waiting list Ne=20 Nc=17 4.8%15.0% T: 9.8% SWB: SWLS, PA PWB: RPWB -
Wing 2006 [71] Positive writing 3, 3d 40.3 (18–79) Self-help Community Self-selected None Placebo Ne=58 Nc=55 6.3% SWB: SWLS -

Abbreviations. U = Unknown; Ne = Number of subjects in experimental group; Nc = Number of subjects in control group; T = Total; nr = Not reported; MDD = Major Depressive Disorder; AD = Anxiety Disorder; GAD = Generalized Anxiety Disorder; AHI = Authentic Happiness Inventory; EASQ = Expanded Attributional Style Questionnaire; GFI = Groningen Frailty Indicator; SWLS = Satisfaction with Life Scales; PA = Positive Affect; SHS = State Hope Scale; PIL = Purpose in Life Test; CES-D = Center for Epidemiological Studies Depression Scale; SQ = Kellner’s Symptom Questionnaire; CID = Clinical Interview for Depression; RPWB = Ryff’s Scales of Psychological Well-being; MHC-SF = Mental Health Continuum-Short Form; HS = Hope Scale; BDI = Beck Depression Inventory; SPF-IL = Social Production Function-Index Level Scale; MS = Mastery Scale; AF-1 = Affectometer 1; PCQ = PsyCap Questionnaire; PLA = Pleasant Affect; SHS(2) = Subjective Happiness Scale; GA = Global Appraisals of subjective well-being; PWI-A = Personal Well-being Index for Adults; OTH = Orientations To Happiness; DASS-21 = Depression, Anxiety and Stress Scales; WB6 = 6 well-being questions; SHI = Steen Happiness Index; PPTI = Positive Psychotherapy Inventory; HRSD = Hamilton Rating Scale for Depression; ZSRS = Zung Self-Rating Scale; LSI-A = Life Satisfaction Index-A; GDS = Geriatric Depression Scale; GSHS = Goal-Specific Hope Scale; NS = Needs Satisfaction.

Bolier et al.

Bolier et al. BMC Public Health 2013 13:119   doi:10.1186/1471-2458-13-119

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