Centre for Youth Mental Health - Research Publications

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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)
    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)
    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.