A Digital Intervention for Adolescent Depression ‘MoodHwb’: Mixed-Methods Feasibility Evaluation

Rhys Bevan Jones, Anita Thapar, Frances Rice, Becky Mars, Sharifah Agha, Daniel J Smith, Sally Merry, Paul Stallard, Ajay Thapar, Ian Jones, Sharon Simpson

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Abstract

Background Treatment and prevention guidelines highlight the key role of health information and evidence-based psychosocial interventions for adolescent depression. Digital health technologies and psychoeducational interventions have been recommended to help engage young people, and to provide accurate health information, enhance self-management skills and promote social support. However, few digital psychoeducational interventions for adolescent depression have been robustly developed and evaluated in line with research guidance. Objective We aimed to evaluate the feasibility, acceptability and potential impact of a theory-informed, co-designed digital intervention programme, ‘MoodHwb’. Methods We used a mixed-methods (quantitative and qualitative) approach to evaluate the programme and the assessment process. Adolescents with or at elevated risk of depression and their parents/carers were recruited from mental health services, school counsellors/nurses and participants from a previous study. They completed a range of questionnaires before and after the programme (related to the feasibility/acceptability of the programme and evaluation process, and changes in mood, knowledge/attitudes and behaviour), and their Web usage was monitored. A subsample was also interviewed. A focus group was conducted with professionals from health, education, social and youth services/charities. Interview and focus group transcripts were analysed using inductive thematic analysis with NVivo 10. Results Forty-four young people and 31 parents/carers were recruited, and 36 (82%) young people and 21 (68%) parents/carers completed follow-up questionnaires. Nineteen young people and 12 parents/carers were interviewed. Thirteen professionals from a range of disciplines participated in the focus group. The key themes from the interviews and groups related to the design features, sections and content, and integration and context of the programme in the young person’s life. Overall, participants found the intervention engaging, clear, user-friendly, and comprehensive, and stated it could be integrated into existing services. Young people found the ‘Self help’ section and ‘Mood monitor’ particularly helpful. The findings provided initial support for the intervention programme theory, for example depression literacy improved after using the intervention (difference in mean literacy score: 1.7 (95% CI 0.8, 2.6; p<0.001) for young people; 1.3 (95% CI 0.4, 2.2; p=0.006) for parents/carers). Conclusions Findings from this early-stage evaluation suggest that ‘MoodHwb’ and the assessment process were feasible and acceptable, and that the intervention has the potential to be helpful for young people and families/carers as an early intervention programme in health, education, youth and social services/charities. A randomised controlled trial is needed to further evaluate the digital programme.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere14536
Number of pages20
JournalJMIR Mental Health
Volume7
Issue number7
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 17 Jul 2020

Keywords

  • Adolescent
  • depression
  • Internet
  • education
  • feasibility study
  • early medical intervention

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