Healthy mind, healthy body: A randomized trial testing the efficacy of a computer-tailored vs. interactive web-based intervention for increasing physical activity and reducing depressive symptoms

Research paper by Amanda L. Rebar, Cody Boles, Nicola W. Burton, Mitch J. Duncan, Camille E. Short, Brenda Happell, Gregory S. Kolt, Cristina M. Caperchione, Richard R. Rosenkranz, Corneel Vandelanotte

Indexed on: 08 Oct '16Published on: 21 Aug '16Published in: Mental Health and Physical Activity


Physical activity is an effective primary or adjunctive treatment to reduce depressive symptoms. Computer-tailored and interactive web-based physical activity interventions are potentially effective and accessible means for promoting physical activity, but little evidence exists regarding their efficacy in reducing depressive symptoms. We conducted a 2-arm randomised trial to compare the efficacy of these web-based interventions for increasing physical activity and reducing depressive symptoms. Participants (18 years or older and had no health condition limiting physical activity) were randomised to have access to a web-based physical activity intervention program with either computer-tailored advice (MyPAA) or interactive features (Walk 2.0). Only half of participants accessed the website at least once (MyPAA: allocated n = 252, accessed program n = 154, 61.1%; Walk 2.0: allocated n = 262, accessed program n = 120, 45.8%). Participants and the research team were blinded to group assignment. There were no significant between-group differences in change of self-reported physical activity or depressive symptoms. Physical activity significantly increased from baseline to one month (g = 0.21) and three months (g = 0.20), and depressive symptoms significantly decreased from baseline to one month (g = 0.36) and three months (g = 0.42). People who visited the website more and for longer had larger changes in physical activity and depressive symptoms than those who visited less. Web-based interventions with computer-tailoring and interactive features show promise as a method for increasing physical activity and reducing depressive symptoms, particularly for those who engage with the program.

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