The Efficacy of Multi-component Positive Psychology Interventions: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials

  • Tom HendriksEmail author
  • Marijke Schotanus-Dijkstra
  • Aabidien Hassankhan
  • Joop de Jong
  • Ernst Bohlmeijer
Review Article


Recently, we see a sharp increase in the number of multi-component positive psychology interventions (MPPIs). The aim of the current study is to examine the efficacy of MPPIs, through a systematic review and meta-analysis. We included 50 randomized controlled trials that were published in 51 articles between 1998 and August 2018. We found standardized mean differences of Hedges’ g = 0.34 for subjective well-being, Hedges’ g = 0.39 for psychological well-being, indicating small to moderate effects, and Hedges’ g = 0.29 for depression, and Hedges’ g = 0.35 for anxiety and stress, indicating small effects. Removing outliers led to a considerable decrease in effect sizes for subjective well-being and depression, a slight decrease for psychological well-being, and a strong increase in the effect size for stress. Removing low quality studies led to a considerable decrease in the effect sizes for subjective well-being, psychological well-being, and depression, and a slight decrease for anxiety, but a strong increase for stress. Moderator analyses only showed a significant effect for study quality, showing larger effect sizes for low quality studies compared to studies of moderate and high quality. In addition, a larger effect size for anxiety was found in studies from non-Western countries compared to studies from Western countries. In sum, this systematic review and meta-analysis found evidence for the efficacy of MPPIs in improving mental health. We conclude that MPPIs have a small effect on subjective well-being and depression, and a small to moderate effect on psychological well-being. In addition, they may have a small to moderate effect on anxiety and a moderate effect on stress, but definite conclusions of the effects of MPPIs on these outcomes cannot me made due to the limited number of studies. Further well-conducted research among diverse populations is necessary to strengthen claims on the efficacy of MPPIs.


Positive psychology Well-being Positive mental health Multicomponent Randomized controlled trials Meta-analysis 


Authors’ Contributions

The meta-analyses and data-analyses were conducted by TH, who also wrote the manuscript. The literature search was conducted by TH and MS, the risk of bias analysis was conducted by TH and AH. JdJ was an advisor in the project. EB was the editor of the article. All authors contributed to the writing of the manuscript and approved the final manuscript.

Compliance with Ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


*Studies preceded by an asterisk were included in the systematic review and meta-analysis

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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Psychology, Faculty of Social SciencesAnton de Kom Universiteit van SurinameParamariboSuriname
  2. 2.Department of Psychology, Health, and Technology, Centre for eHealth and Well-being ResearchUniversity of TwenteEnschedeThe Netherlands
  3. 3.Amsterdam Institute for Social Science Research (AISSR)University of AmsterdamAmsterdamThe Netherlands

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