Exercise and internet-based cognitive-behavioural therapy for depression: Multicentre randomized controlled trial with 12-month follow-up

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Background Evidence-based treatment of depression continues to grow, but successful treatment and maintenance of treatment response remains limited. Aims To compare the effectiveness of exercise, internet-based cognitive-behavioural therapy (ICBT) and usual care for depression. Method A multicentre, three-group parallel, randomised controlled trial was conducted with assessment at 3 months (posttreatment) and 12 months (primary end-point). Outcome assessors were masked to group allocation. Computergenerated allocation was performed externally in blocks of 36 and the ratio of participants per group was 1:1:1. In total, 945 adults with mild to moderate depression aged 18-71 years were recruited from primary healthcare centres located throughout Sweden. Participants were randomly assigned to one of three 12-week interventions: supervised group exercise, clinician-supported ICBT or usual care by a physician. The primary outcome was depression severity assessed by the Montgomery-Å sberg Depression Rating Scale (MADRS). Results The response rate at 12-month follow-up was 84%. Depression severity reduced significantly in all three treatment groups in a quadratic trend over time. Mean differences in MADRS score at 12 months were 12.1 (ICBT), 11.4 (exercise) and 9.7 (usual care). At the primary end-point the group6time interaction was significant for both exercise and ICBT. Effect sizes for both interventions were small to moderate. Conclusions The long-term treatment effects reported here suggest that prescribed exercise and clinician-supported ICBT should be considered for the treatment of mild to moderate depression in adults. Declaration of interest None.


  • Mats Hallgren
  • Björg Helgadóttir
  • Matthew P. Herring
  • Zangin Zeebari
  • Nils Lindefors
  • Viktor Kaldo
  • Agneta Öjehagen
  • Yvonne Forsell
External organisations
  • Karolinska Institutet
  • University of Limerick
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Psychiatry
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)414-420
Number of pages7
JournalBritish Journal of Psychiatry
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2016 Nov 1
Publication categoryResearch