Reducing negative thinking and depressive symptoms in college women

J Nurs Scholarsh. 2000;32(2):145-51. doi: 10.1111/j.1547-5069.2000.00145.x.


Purpose: Although cognitive-behavioral interventions have been successful in treating depression, no studies were found that focused solely on reducing negative thinking via group intervention as a means of preventing depression in at-risk groups. The purpose of this randomized controlled trial was to test the effectiveness of a cognitive-behavioral group intervention in reducing depressive symptoms, decreasing negative thinking, and enhancing self-esteem in young women at risk for depression.

Design: A randomized controlled trial with 92 college women ages 18 to 24 who were at risk for depression was conducted.

Method: Participants were randomly assigned to either the control or experimental group. The experimental group participated in a 6-week cognitive-behavioral group intervention. Data on self-esteem, depressive symptoms, and negative thinking were collected via self-report questionnaires from control and experimental groups at baseline, 1 month after the intervention, and at 6-month follow-up. Data were analyzed using mixed-model methodology and the Cochran-Mantel-Haenszel chi-square test.

Findings: Compared to those in the control group, women who received the intervention had a greater decrease in depressive symptoms and negative thinking and a greater increase in self-esteem, and these beneficial effects were maintained over 6-months.

Conclusions: The findings document the effectiveness of this cognitive-behavioral group intervention and indicate empirical support for the beneficial effects of reducing negative thinking by the use of affirmations and thought-stopping techniques on women's mental health.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy / methods*
  • Depression / therapy*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Psychotherapy, Group / methods*
  • Self Concept
  • Thinking*