The research project PACINPAT (Physical Activity Counselling in Patients with Major Depressive Disorders) investigated how two different forms of physical activity coaching can have an impact on physical activity and health in physically inactive patients who are undergoing inpatient psychiatric treatment for depressive disorders.

Current status

In November 2022, we were able to take the last measurements and collect all data of the PACINPAT study. We would like to thank all participants. We were able to include 244 patients in the study. Of these, 220 could be measured at the first measurement point, 166 at the second and 152 completed the final measurement. In addition, a healthy control group took part at the first measurement point, where we were able to carry out 141 measurements.

Now we concentrate on data analysis and evaluation.

We would also like to thank the staff and managers of the 4 clinics, UPK Basel, Sonnenhalde Riehen, Privatklinik Wyss Münchenbuchsee and Psychiatrische Dienste Solothurn, whose support made the implementation of the study possible.


Depression is a widespread and burdensome condition. Physical activity has proven to be a viable treatment as a complement to pharmacology and psychotherapy. However, people suffering from depression are particularly vulnerable to physical inactivity because of physical co-morbidities as well as motivational deficits. Hence, physical activity counselling may have the potential to increase physical activity and cardiorespiratory fitness in this population, thus not only tackling mental but also physical health problems.


In this study two different types of physical activity counselling programmes are being compared. During one-on-one contact with a trained physical activity facilitator, participants are encouraged to be more active. The overall aim is to increase physical activity levels in the participants and to evaluate whether physical activity counselling should be implemented systematically in psychiatric clinics.


All data will be handled confidentially and will be used exclusively for scientific purposes.


The study is financed by the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNF). The following link leads to the project description on the SNF platform.


We want to share our plans and findings of this study. For this purpose, publications will be prepared and provided for the scientific community as well as the general-public. Here you will find our publications.

The PACINPAT study

In this study the effect of two different physical activity programmes on physical activity levels in patients suffering from depression is being evaluated. For this purpose the following parameters, which are relevant for psychological as well as physiological health, are being collected:

  • Objectively physical activity
  • Subjective physical activity
  • Cardiorespiratory fitness
  • Autonomic function
  • Cognitive and social determinants of physical activity
  • Depression severity
  • Subjective physical and psychological health
  • Insomnia symptoms
  • Cardiovascular risk factors
  • Depression biomarkers


Birsstrasse 320 B, CH-4052 Basel
[email protected]
+41 61 207 60 80

Senior Project Team


Prof. Dr. Markus Gerber

Principal Investigator, Head of Sport and Psychosocial Health, DSBG, University Basel

Prof. Dr. Lukas Zahner

Co-Applicant, Head of Movement and Training Science, DSBG, University Basel

PD Dr. Oliver Faude

Co-Applicant, Deputy Head of Movement and Training Science, DSBG, University Basel

PD Dr. phil. Serge Brand

Co-Applicant, Psychologist & Psychotherapist FSP/MAS, Scientific Associate, Sport and Psychosocial Health, DSBG, University Basel

Prof. Dr. med. Undine Lang

Co-Applicant, Head of the Adult Psychiatric Department and Private Hospital of the University Psychiatric Clinics in Basel

Project Staff

M. A. Robyn Cody

Project Coordinator,
PhD Candidate, Sport and Psychosocial Health, DSBG University Basel

M. Sc. Jan-Niklas Kreppke

Project Coordinator,
PhD Candidate, Movement and Training Science, DSBG University Basel

M. Sc. Xenia Fischer

Coaching Intervention Expert,
PhD Candidate, Movement and Training Science, DSBG University Basel

B. Sc. Reto Maurer

Physical Activity Coach,
B. Sc. Sport Science

M. Sc. Lilja-Sophie Rhodius

Physical Activity Coach,
M. Sc. Psychology

M. Sc. Daniel Vogel

Software Development,
Founder & CEO Youdowell AG

M. Sc. Andrew Usov

Software Development,
Co-Founder & CTO Youdowell AG

Project Partners

PD Dr. med. Johannes Beck

Head Physician,
Klinik Sonnenhalde AG

Univ.-Prof. Dr. Lars Donath

Head of Training Science Intervention Research,
German Sport University Cologne

Prof .Dr. rer. nat. Anne Eckert

Head of Neurobiology Lab,
University Basel

Prof. Dr. med. Martin Hatzinger

Head Physician Clinic for Psychiatry, Psychotherapy and Psychosomatic Medicine,
Psychiatrische Dienste Solothurn

Prof. Dr. med. Edith Holsboer-Trachsler

Specialist in Psychiatry and Psychotherapy FMH,
Extraordinaria for Stress and Trauma Research

Dr. med. Christian Imboden EMBA

Medical Director & Chairman of the Clinic Management,
Privatklinik Wyss AG

Dr. Sebastian Ludyga

Sport and Cognition Researcher,
Scientific Associate, Sport and Health Pedagogy, DSBG, University Basel

Dr. phil. nat Sarah Mans EMBA

Quality and Project Management,
Privatklinik Wyss AG

PD Dr. med. Thorsten Mikoteit

Deputy Head Physician Clinic for Psychiatry, Psychotherapy and Psychosomatic Medicine,
Psychiatrische Dienste Solothurn

Dr. med. Anja Oswald

Klinik Sonnenhalde AG

Dr. Anja Rogausch

Head of Medical Research Projects and Quality Management,
Klinik Sonnenhalde AG

Ann-Kathrin Schreiner

Head of Patient Management, Marketing & Communication,
Klinik Sonnenhalde AG

Dr. med. Nina Schweinfurth

Universitären Psychiatrischen Kliniken Basel

Dr. med. Ursula Spitzer

Universitären Psychiatrischen Kliniken Basel

Previous Project Staff

M. Sc. Sofia Rey

Partner Clinics

Universitäre Psyhiatrische Kliniken Basel
Wilhelm Klein-Strasse 27, 4002 Basel
+41 61 325 51 11
[email protected]

Klinik Sonnenhalde AG – Psychiatrie und Psychotherapie
Gänshaldenweg 28, 4125 Riehen
+41 61 645 46 46
[email protected]

Privatklinik Wyss AG, Psychiatrie, Psychotherapie und Psychosomatik
Fellenbergstrasse 3053 Münchenbuchsee
+41 31 868 33 33
[email protected]

Psychiatrische Dienste Solothurn
Weissensteinerstrasse 102, 4503 Solothurn
+41 32 627 11 11
[email protected]