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Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine
Volume 2013 (2013), Article ID 140467, 10 pages
Review Article

Control Group Design: Enhancing Rigor in Research of Mind-Body Therapies for Depression

Virginia Commonwealth University, School of Nursing, 1100 East Leigh Street, Richmond, VA 23298, USA

Received 19 November 2012; Revised 21 February 2013; Accepted 13 March 2013

Academic Editor: Vernon A. Barnes

Copyright © 2013 Patricia Anne Kinser and Jo Lynne Robins. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Although a growing body of research suggests that mind-body therapies may be appropriate to integrate into the treatment of depression, studies consistently lack methodological sophistication particularly in the area of control groups. In order to better understand the relationship between control group selection and methodological rigor, we provide a brief review of the literature on control group design in yoga and tai chi studies for depression, and we discuss challenges we have faced in the design of control groups for our recent clinical trials of these mind-body complementary therapies for women with depression. To address the multiple challenges of research about mind-body therapies, we suggest that researchers should consider 4 key questions: whether the study design matches the research question; whether the control group addresses performance, expectation, and detection bias; whether the control group is ethical, feasible, and attractive; and whether the control group is designed to adequately control for nonspecific intervention effects. Based on these questions, we provide specific recommendations about control group design with the goal of minimizing bias and maximizing validity in future research.