Preventing Adolescent Depression With Sustainable Resources: Evaluation of a School-Based Universal Effectiveness Trial

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Shochet, Ian

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Dadds, Mark

Towyz, Stephen

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2003
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Abstract

Adolescent depression is highly prevalent, associated with negative effects and likely to recur, this provides a cogent argument for finding sustainable, cost-effective, developmentally appropriate approaches to preventing depression. Although there is good evidence to support efficacy, there is no evidence of the effectiveness of programs preventing adolescent depression. Thus the primary aim of this thesis is to evaluate the effectiveness of a universal, school-based, adolescent depression prevention program when implemented by teachers and local mental health professionals. Participants were 1003 secondary school students drawn from three pairs of matched Year 9 cohorts. The three pairs were assigned to either: (a) Resourceful Adolescent Program (RAP), an 11-session school-based resilience program delivered as part of the school curriculum (n = 522) or (b) a comparison condition (n = 481). All students completed measures of depressive symptoms and hopelessness at pre-intervention, post-intervention and 6-month follow-up. The intervention group completed quantitative and qualitative evaluations of perceived program benefit. Small program effects on depressive symptoms for the RAP group were evident for the whole group at post-intervention (ES = 0.30) and for girls only at follow-up (ES = 0.35). However, both boys' and girls' self-reports indicated very positive overall benefits from the RAP intervention. Teachers were not less effective as group leaders than mental health professionals in terms of outcomes on depression measures, perceived program benefits or acceptability to students. Public health implications of this population-based approach are discussed in the light of small effects, high recruitment rates and potential use of sustainable school resources.

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Thesis (PhD Doctorate)

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Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

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School of Applied Psychology

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The author owns the copyright in this thesis, unless stated otherwise.

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Subject

depression

mental depression

adolescent

adolescents

adolescence

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