Argentine tango dance compared to mindfulness meditation and a waiting-list control: a randomised trial for treating depression

Complement Ther Med. 2012 Dec;20(6):377-84. doi: 10.1016/j.ctim.2012.07.003. Epub 2012 Aug 3.


Objectives: To determine whether tango dancing is as effective as mindfulness meditation in reducing symptoms of psychological stress, anxiety and depression, and in promoting well-being.

Design: This study employed analysis of covariance (ANCOVA) and multiple regression analysis.

Participants: Ninety-seven people with self-declared depression were randomised into tango dance or mindfulness meditation classes, or to control/waiting-list.

Setting: classes were conducted in a venue suitable for both activities in the metropolitan area of Sydney, Australia.

Interventions: Participants completed six-week programmes (1½h/week of tango or meditation). The outcome measures were assessed at pre-test and post-test.

Main outcome measures: Depression, Anxiety and Stress Scale; The Self Esteem Scale; Satisfaction with Life Scale, and Mindful Attention Awareness Scale.

Results: Sixty-six participants completed the program and were included in the statistical analysis. Depression levels were significantly reduced in the tango (effect size d=0.50, p=.010), and meditation groups (effect size d=0.54, p=.025), relative to waiting-list controls. Stress levels were significantly reduced only in the tango group (effect size d=0.45, p=.022). Attending tango classes was a significant predictor for the increased levels of mindfulness R(2)=.10, adjusted R(2)=.07, F (2,59)=3.42, p=.039.

Conclusion: Mindfulness-meditation and tango dance could be effective complementary adjuncts for the treatment of depression and/or inclusion in stress management programmes. Subsequent trials are called to explore the therapeutic mechanisms involved.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Anxiety / therapy
  • Argentina
  • Dance Therapy*
  • Dancing / psychology*
  • Depression / therapy*
  • Depressive Disorder / therapy*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Meditation* / methods
  • Middle Aged
  • Mind-Body Relations, Metaphysical
  • Personal Satisfaction
  • Self Concept
  • Stress, Psychological / therapy*
  • Waiting Lists
  • Young Adult