The Sources of Strength Australia Project: study protocol for a cluster randomised controlled trial
AuthorCalear, AL; Brewer, JL; Batterham, PJ; Mackinnon, A; Wyman, PA; LoMurray, M; Shand, F; Kazan, D; Christensen, H
PublisherBIOMED CENTRAL LTD
University of Melbourne Author/sMacKinnon, Andrew
AffiliationMelbourne School of Population and Global Health
Document TypeJournal Article
CitationsCalear, A. L., Brewer, J. L., Batterham, P. J., Mackinnon, A., Wyman, P. A., LoMurray, M., Shand, F., Kazan, D. & Christensen, H. (2016). The Sources of Strength Australia Project: study protocol for a cluster randomised controlled trial. TRIALS, 17 (1), https://doi.org/10.1186/s13063-016-1475-1.
Access StatusOpen Access
BACKGROUND: The school system has been identified as an ideal setting for the implementation of prevention and early intervention programs for suicide. However, in Australia, suicide-prevention programs that are routinely delivered in the schools are lacking. Internationally, evidence exists for the effectiveness of peer-led interventions that take a social connectedness approach to improve help-seeking for suicide. The aim of the current trial is to test the effectiveness of the Sources of Strength program to promote help-seeking for suicide in adolescents in Australian high schools. METHODS/DESIGN: This study is a two-arm, cluster-randomised, controlled trial that will compare the evidence-based Sources of Strength program to a wait-list control condition. Sixteen Australian high schools will be recruited to the trial, with all adolescents in years 7 to 10 (12-16 years of age) invited to participate. Peer leaders from intervention-condition schools will receive training in the Sources of Strength program and will integrate positive messages, across 3 months, with the support of adult advisors. Activities may take the form of class presentations, posters, videos, and messages on social media sites and will aim to change help-seeking norms, strengthen youth-adult connections, and promote positive coping. The primary outcome measure for the study is help-seeking intentions, whereas secondary outcomes include help-seeking behaviour, help-seeking attitudes and norms, referral of distressed peers, availability of adult help, positive coping, and suicidal behaviour. Data will be collected pre-intervention, post-intervention (after the initial 3 months of messaging), and at the end of the first (6-month follow-up) and the second year after implementation (18-month follow-up). Primary analyses will compare changes in help-seeking intentions for the intervention condition relative to the wait-list control condition using mixed-effect repeated-measures analyses to account for clustering within schools. DISCUSSION: If proven effective, this universal social connectedness program for suicide could be more widely delivered in Australian high schools, providing a valuable new resource. The Sources of Strength program has the potential to significantly contribute to the mental health of young people in Australia by improving help-seeking for suicide. The findings from this research will also contribute to the evidence-base for peer-leadership programs internationally. TRIAL REGISTRATION: Australian New Zealand Clinical Trials Registry, ACTRN12616000048482 . Registered on 19 January 2016.
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