A Meta-Analytic Review of the Penn Resiliency Program's Effect on Depressive Symptoms

Steven M. Brunwasser, Jane E. Gillham, Eric S. Kim

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

295 Scopus citations


The purpose of this review was to evaluate whether the Penn Resiliency Program (PRP), a group cognitive-behavioral intervention, is effective in targeting depressive symptoms in youths. We identified 17 controlled evaluations of PRP (N = 2,498) in which depressive symptoms had been measured via an online search of PsycInfo, Medline, ERIC, and ProQuest Dissertations and Theses and by requesting data from PRP researchers. We combined effect sizes (ESs; Glass's d), using random effects models at postintervention and two follow-up assessments (6-8 and 12 months postintervention). PRP participants reported fewer depressive symptoms at postintervention and both follow-up assessments compared with youths receiving no intervention, with ESs ranging from 0.11 to 0.21. Subgroup analyses showed that PRP's effects were significant at 1 or more follow-up assessments among studies with both targeted and universal approaches, when group leaders were research team members and community providers, among participants with both low and elevated baseline symptoms, and among boys and girls. Limited data showed no evidence that PRP is superior to active control conditions. Preliminary analyses suggested that PRP's effects on depressive disorders may be smaller than those reported in a larger meta-analysis of depression prevention programs for older adolescents and adults. We found evidence that PRP significantly reduces depressive symptoms through at least 1-year postintervention. Future PRP research should examine whether PRP's effects on depressive symptoms lead to clinically meaningful benefits for its participants, whether the program is cost-effective, whether CB skills mediate program effects, and whether PRP is effective when delivered under real-world conditions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1042-1054
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 2009
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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