The efficacy of life-review as online-guided self-help for adults: a randomized trial

J Gerontol B Psychol Sci Soc Sci. 2015 Jan;70(1):24-34. doi: 10.1093/geronb/gbu030. Epub 2014 Apr 1.


Objectives: The study used a randomized controlled trial to investigate the short-term and long-term effects of life-review as online-guided self-help in adults (40+) with moderate depressive symptomatology. We evaluated ego-integrity and rumination as mediators and assessed whether the effects of the intervention did not differ across middle-aged and older adults.

Method: Effects of life-review (n = 58) were compared with a waiting list group (n = 58) and an expressive writing intervention (n = 58) on depressive symptoms (primary outcome), anxiety, and well-being (secondary outcomes). Mediator and moderator analyses were also applied.

Results: Compared with the waiting list, life-review reduced depressive symptoms (d = 0.35) and enhanced emotional (d = 0.16) and psychological well-being (d = 0.27). Life-review was not more effective than expressive writing. The effects on depressive symptoms were partly related with increases in ego-integrity and decreases in rumination. The intervention is applicable for middle-aged and older adults.

Conclusion: Life-review is effective as self-help for middle-aged and older adults with moderate depressive symptomatology compared with a waiting list group. Future research should investigate whether stimulating ego-integrity and reducing rumination enhance the effects of the intervention.

Keywords: Depression; Ego-integrity; Life-review; Randomized controlled trial; Rumination; Self-help..

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Autobiographies as Topic
  • Counseling / methods*
  • Depression / therapy*
  • Electronic Mail / statistics & numerical data
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Narration*
  • Self Care / methods*
  • Treatment Outcome