Trial of an Intervention for adolescents with moderate to severe symptoms of depression using the beyondblue framework

Angelo Contarino (). Trial of an Intervention for adolescents with moderate to severe symptoms of depression using the beyondblue framework Professional Doctorate, School of Psychology, The University of Queensland.

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Author Angelo Contarino
Thesis Title Trial of an Intervention for adolescents with moderate to severe symptoms of depression using the beyondblue framework
School, Centre or Institute School of Psychology
Institution The University of Queensland
Thesis type Professional Doctorate
Supervisor Kate Sofronoff
Jeanie Sheffield
Total pages 149
Abstract/Summary Abstract Objective: Adolescence is a period of development where rates of psychopathology increase significantly (Steiner & Feldman, 1996). Further, mental disorders such as depression have been named the major burden of disease amongst adolescent populations (Australian Institute of Health and Wellbeing [AIHW], 2007). There is a need to develop cost effective and accessible approaches to the prevention and early intervention of depression, including school-based programmes (Sawyer et al., 2000). Targeted interventions as opposed to universal prevention programmes appear to be generally offering more favourable short and long-term outcomes regarding the reduction of depressive symptoms (Sheffield et al., 2006). Based upon these research findings, the primary aims of this thesis were: 1. To take existing, theoretically driven processes used in the beyondblue Schools Research Initiative designed for students in grades 8 to 10, and to deliver them as a targeted intervention for students in grades 10 to 12 who had been screened for symptoms of depression; and 2. To conduct exploratory research into the impact of this targeted intervention on student symptomatology and general functioning before and after completion of the programme. Method: Forty-seven students aged between 14-17 years (M = 15.25 years, SD = 0.76) from a Catholic college north of Brisbane were recruited for this pilot study. As part of usual college processes all students in grades 10 to 12 were screened in order to determine the socio-emotional needs within the student population and to make an attempt to address these. Students who reported moderate to extremely severe scores on at least one of the Depression, Anxiety, and Stress Scale (DASS: Lovibond & Lovibond, 1995) subscales were then offered the opportunity to participate in this targeted programme, with the requirement of consent from students and their parents. Students for whom consent was not gained, were offered the options of attending internal individual counselling at the college or referrals to an external agency, such as a private counsellor/psychologist or the local Child and Youth Mental Health Service. Those who did consent to participate were divided into four groups with approximately equal numbers and then provided the same intervention sessions over an eight-week period. This division into four groups of approximately 12 students was decided upon for the optimum delivery of the programme, with no specific selection criteria used. Students were allocated to a group on receipt of their consent forms. Participants were assessed at pre intervention, post intervention, and follow-up using a number of self-report measures. Two N = 1 case studies were also included demonstrating improvement and mixed results respectively, exploring the possible factors associated with these individual outcomes. Results: The results demonstrated that adolescents experienced significant improvements in symptomatology (depression, anxiety, and anger), their general functioning (self-concept, positive thinking, and negative problem orientation), and the severity of their clinical status over time. Further, student involvement in the programme appears to have had a positive impact upon reported quality of life and help-seeking behaviours. Conclusion: The goal of this research was to explore the effectiveness of the beyondblue Schools Research Initiative materials when applied as part of a targeted intervention. Preliminary results are promising, although further work is required to enhance school-based interventions. Limitations, implications, and directions for future research are also addressed.

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Created: Thu, 15 Sep 2011, 20:12:55 EST by Angelo Contarino on behalf of Faculty of Social & Behavioural Sciences