, Volume 8, Issue 3, pp 797–806 | Cite as

Potential Moderators of the Effects of a School-Based Mindfulness Program on Symptoms of Depression in Adolescents

  • Katleen Van der GuchtEmail author
  • Keisuke Takano
  • Peter Kuppens
  • Filip Raes


An essential step to wide-scale dissemination is to investigate moderators of intervention effectiveness. This study examined moderators of the effects of a universal school-based mindfulness program on adolescents’ depressive symptoms. Based on theory and previous research, we identified the following potential moderators: (1) severity of symptoms of depression at baseline, (2) gender, (3) age, and (4) school track. The study uses a pooled dataset from two consecutive randomized controlled trials in adolescents (13–18 years) in secondary schools in Belgium. Results on effectiveness based on the first trial were published in this journal (Raes et al. 2014). A second consecutive trial was conducted to obtain a more equal distribution between school tracks and to enlarge power, yielding a total of 605 students from nine schools. In each school, parallel classes were randomized to the mindfulness condition or usual curriculum control condition. Data were collected 1 week before and 1 week after delivery of the training and at 6-month follow-up. Moderation was tested longitudinally with multilevel models across the three repeated measures and across condition. We found no moderation effects of gender, age, and school track. Six months after the training, we found a marginally significant moderation effect for severity of symptoms of depression at baseline with greater decrease in symptoms for students with high levels of depression. The general absence of differential intervention effects for gender, age, and school track supports the broad scope of the school-based mindfulness group intervention.


Mindfulness Depression Prevention Moderators Adolescents Schools 



This research was supported by a grant from the foundation “Go for Happiness.” We sincerely thank vzw Mindfulness, the trainers, the schools, and the students who participated in this project.

Compliance with Ethical Standards


This study was funded by a grant from the foundation “Go for Happiness.” The writing of this article has been facilitated by KU Leuven Center for Excellence on Generalization Research (GRIP*TT; PF/10/005) and by KU Leuven Research Council grant GOA/15/003.

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical Approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki Declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Informed Consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Katleen Van der Gucht
    • 1
    Email author
  • Keisuke Takano
    • 1
  • Peter Kuppens
    • 1
  • Filip Raes
    • 1
  1. 1.Faculty of Psychology and Educational SciencesUniversity of LeuvenLeuvenBelgium

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