Overview of the Tripod trial
Adolescence can be a difficult time for many young people. Amongst the many pressures experienced by teens, final exams are considered to be among the most stressful. We know that stress can trigger underlying vulnerabilities that can result in mental illness such as depression. Indeed, more than 40% of Year 12 students report symptoms of depression, anxiety and stress that fall outside what is considered the normal range for this age group.
This Trial for the Prevention of Depression (TriPoD) investigates the effectiveness of a universal prevention intervention for Major Depression Disorder (MDD) in adolescence prior to a major stressor.
Prevention is estimated to reduce the incidence of depression by as much as 22%, and as such represents an important pathway to explore. Research demonstrates that prevention strategies may help young people avoid or delay developing mental health problems, or help them to recover more quickly when faced with stressful situations. In particular, there is evidence to suggest that universal interventions based on principles of cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) can be helpful. Further, e-health developments can be used to overcome practical difficulties of delivering an intervention en masse. Automated online programs with established efficacy can be used to deliver with fidelity without the need for face to face health professional input. Because the prevention effort is aimed at all students (i.e. is universal), engagement is maximised when delivered through the classroom.
As such, using Randomised Controlled Trial (RCT) methodology, TriPoD is investigating the effectiveness of a universal prevention intervention for depression in adolescents prior to the Higher School Certificate (HSC). The trial is currently underway and students in 30 schools across New South Wales (NSW) will be randomly allocated to receive an online, automated, preventative Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) program or an online control program focused on health and wellbeing.