Centre for Youth Mental Health - Research Publications

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    The effectiveness of simple psychological and exercise interventions for high prevalence mental health problems in young people: a factorial randomised controlled trial
    Parker, AG ; Hetrick, SE ; Jorm, AF ; Yung, AR ; McGorry, PD ; Mackinnon, A ; Moller, B ; Purcell, R (BMC, 2011-03-13)
    BACKGROUND: The prevalence of mental illness in young people is the highest of any age group, with the onset of depression, anxiety and substance use peaking between 18 and 24 years. Effective treatments that target sub-threshold or mild to moderate levels of disorder in young people are required to reduce the risk of persistence and recurrence. The aims of this study are to evaluate whether treatments that are less intensive than cognitive-behaviour therapy, such as problem solving therapy and exercise treatments, are acceptable and effective in managing depression and anxiety symptoms in young people and to identify possible attributes in those who are likely to respond to these treatments. METHODS/DESIGN: This is a factorial randomised controlled trial conducted at a large, metropolitan youth mental health service. Participants are young help-seekers aged 15-25 years with sub-threshold or mild to moderate levels of depression and anxiety (with or without comorbid substance use). The interventions comprise 4 treatment combinations delivered by psychologists over 6 sessions on a weekly basis: a psychological intervention (problem solving therapy versus supportive counselling) and an exercise intervention (behavioural exercise versus psychoeducation). Structured assessments occur at baseline, mid-point, end-point (6 weeks) and at a 6- and 12-month follow-up. The primary outcomes are depression and anxiety symptoms as measured by the Beck Depression and Anxiety Inventories. Secondary outcomes include remission (defined as no longer meeting the diagnostic criteria for a disorder if threshold level was reached at baseline, or no longer scoring in the clinical range on scale scores if sub-threshold at baseline), substance use, and functioning. DISCUSSION: The effectiveness of less complex psychological and exercise interventions in young help-seekers with sub-threshold or mild to moderate presentations of high prevalence disorders is yet to be explored. This study has been designed to examine the effectiveness of these interventions delivered alone, or in combination, in a youth-specific service. If effective, the interventions have the potential to prevent the progression of early symptoms and distress to later and potentially more serious stages of mental disorder and reduce the likelihood of ongoing problems associated with the risk of persistence and recurrence. TRIAL REGISTRATION: Australian New Zealand Clinical Trials Registry ACTRN12608000550303.
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    Quality of information sources about mental disorders: a comparison of Wikipedia with centrally controlled web and printed sources
    Reavley, NJ ; Mackinnon, AJ ; Morgan, AJ ; Alvarez-Jimenez, M ; Hetrick, SE ; Killackey, E ; Nelson, B ; Purcell, R ; Yap, MBH ; Jorm, AF (CAMBRIDGE UNIV PRESS, 2012-08-01)
    BACKGROUND: Although mental health information on the internet is often of poor quality, relatively little is known about the quality of websites, such as Wikipedia, that involve participatory information sharing. The aim of this paper was to explore the quality of user-contributed mental health-related information on Wikipedia and compare this with centrally controlled information sources. METHOD: Content on 10 mental health-related topics was extracted from 14 frequently accessed websites (including Wikipedia) providing information about depression and schizophrenia, Encyclopaedia Britannica, and a psychiatry textbook. The content was rated by experts according to the following criteria: accuracy, up-to-dateness, breadth of coverage, referencing and readability. RESULTS: Ratings varied significantly between resources according to topic. Across all topics, Wikipedia was the most highly rated in all domains except readability. CONCLUSIONS: The quality of information on depression and schizophrenia on Wikipedia is generally as good as, or better than, that provided by centrally controlled websites, Encyclopaedia Britannica and a psychiatry textbook.
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    Behavior change through automated e-mails: Mediation analysis of self-help strategy use for depressive symptoms
    Morgan, AJ ; Mackinnon, AJ ; Jorm, AF (PERGAMON-ELSEVIER SCIENCE LTD, 2013-02-01)
    OBJECTIVE: To evaluate whether automated e-mails promoting effective self-help strategies for depressive symptoms were effective in changing self-help behavior, and whether this improved depression outcomes. METHOD: 568 adults with sub-threshold depression participated in a randomized controlled trial and provided complete data. A series of 12 e-mails promoting the use of evidence-based self-help strategies was compared with e-mails providing non-directive depression information. Depression symptoms were assessed with the Patient Health Questionnaire depression scale (PHQ-9) and use of self-help strategies was assessed at baseline and post-intervention. We hypothesized that those receiving the self-help e-mails would increase their use of evidence-based self-help and this would be associated with improvements in depression. Mediation analyses were conducted using a non-parametric bootstrapping procedure. RESULTS: Total use of the self-help strategies promoted in the e-mails significantly mediated the effect of the intervention on depressive symptoms (B = -0.75, SE = 0.16, 95% CI: -1.06 to -0.48). The direct effect of the intervention on depressive symptoms was much smaller and not significant when the mediation path was included. The majority of the individual strategies also had a significant indirect effect on depressive symptoms. CONCLUSIONS: In adults with sub-threshold depression, automated e-mails based on behavior change principles can successfully increase use of self-help strategies, leading to a reduction in depressive symptoms.
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    Internet-Based Recruitment to a Depression Prevention Intervention: Lessons From the Mood Memos Study
    Morgan, AJ ; Jorm, AF ; Mackinnon, AJ (JMIR PUBLICATIONS, INC, 2013-02-01)
    BACKGROUND: Recruiting participants to randomized controlled trials of health interventions can be very difficult. Internet-based recruitment is becoming an increasingly important mode of recruitment, yet there are few detailed accounts of experiences recruiting participants to mental health interventions. OBJECTIVE: To report on our experience with Internet-based recruitment to an online depression prevention intervention and pass on lessons we learned. METHODS: Participants were recruited to the Mood Memos study, an online preventive depression intervention, purely through Internet-based sources. The study was targeted to adults with subthreshold depression symptoms from several English-speaking countries. A variety of online recruitment sources were trialed, including search engine advertising (Google, Yahoo!, Bing), Facebook advertising, posts in forums and online noticeboards, and promotion through relevant websites and email newsletters of mental health organizations. RESULTS: The study website received visits from 94,808 individuals over the 14-month recruitment period. The recruitment target was reached with 1699 individuals signing up to the randomized controlled trial and 1326 fully enrolling. Most visitors arrived via Google advertising, which promoted a depression-screening questionnaire. Google advertising accounted for nearly half of the total participants who signed up to the study, at an average cost of AUD $12 per participant. Promoting the study through trustworthy organizations and websites known to participants was also effective. Recruitment techniques that were less effective were contacting forums, email groups, and community noticeboards. CONCLUSIONS: Several techniques, including Google advertising, were successful in recruiting participants to a trial evaluating an online depression intervention. Results suggest that Internet-based recruitment to mental health interventions is feasible and can be relatively affordable. TRIAL REGISTRATION: ACTRN12609000925246.