Exercise therapy for depression in middle-aged and older adults: predictors of early dropout and treatment failure

Health Psychol. 2002 Nov;21(6):553-63.


Psychosocial factors predicting treatment dropout or failure to benefit from treatment were identified in a randomized trial of exercise therapy and pharmacotherapy for major depression. One hundred fifty-six men and women over age 50 diagnosed with major depressive disorder were assigned to a 16-week program of aerobic exercise, medication (sertraline), or a combination of exercise and medication. Thirty-two patients (21%) failed to complete the program and were considered treatment "dropouts." At the end of 16 weeks, 83 patients (53%) were in remission; the remaining patients not in remission were considered treatment "failures." Baseline levels of self-reported anxiety and lift satisfaction were the best predictors of both patient dropout and treatment success or failure across all treatment conditions.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Antidepressive Agents / therapeutic use
  • Anxiety / psychology
  • Combined Modality Therapy
  • Depressive Disorder / therapy*
  • Exercise Therapy*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Patient Compliance*
  • Patient Dropouts / psychology
  • Risk Factors
  • Treatment Failure


  • Antidepressive Agents