An academic study published in a peer-reviewed journal found positive effects on mental health from playing Dungeons & Dragons over a period of time.  The study, with four named authors from James Cook University in Australia, used four assessments of mental health and self-concepts taken before, during and after an eight-session Dungeons & Dragons campaign conducted by experienced Dungeon Masters from a local gaming club.

Study participants all did the same D&D module, which was developed by the local DMs.

Twenty-five participants with previous D&D experience ranging from none to a great deal of experience took written surveys at four time-points: before, mid-study, post-study, and one month after completion.  The participants did eight sessions of one hour per week over the eight-week period of the study.  The study participants were 64% male, 32% female, and 4% non-binary/third gender.

Study participants experienced significant declines in depression, stress, and anxiety and significant increases in self-esteem and self-efficacy (belief that one is capable of performing specific behaviors when called for in challenging situations) over the study period.

Differences in depression, anxiety, and stress from the beginning to end of the period were large, as measured in the study; and self-esteem and self-efficacy differences were in the medium to large range.

While there were limitations related to the small sample size, the fact that the study did not have blinded randomized controlled comparisons, and the limited age range of the participants, the authors concluded that the study results "add to a growing evidence base for the potential use of D&D as a preventative or intervention tool to promote wellbeing."

The study was published in Games for Health Journal, 13 (2), pp. 128-133.