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Counseling and Human Development


Adolescent depression is a common and recurrent disorder associated with significant impairment and other forms of psychopathology. Finding an effective intervention that prevents depression in adolescents is an important public health priority. Participants were 518 high school students (mean age = 15.09; SD = 0.76) from the mid-south of the United States. Participants were randomly assigned to one of three conditions: a cognitive-behavioral program (CB; n = 166), nonspecific control (NSp; n = 175), or a no-intervention control condition (NIC; n = 177). Both the CB and NSp conditions consisted of 90-minute sessions administered once a week over a 10-week period during regular school hours. Depressive symptoms were assessed with the Children’s Depression Inventory (CDI) at baseline, post-intervention, and at 4-, 8-, and 12-month follow-ups. The time by condition interaction was significant [F(8, 478.57) = 3.32, p = .001] indicating that at the 4-month follow-up, youth in the CB condition had significantly lower CDI scores compared to those in the NSp (p = 0.047, g = 0.29; CI: 0.06-0.52) and the NIC conditions (p = 0.003, g = 0.30; CI: 0.07-0.53). Future studies need to examine the importance of theory-driven change mechanisms, interpersonal relationships, and structural circumstances in schools as factors impacting the long-term effects of CB prevention programs.


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Original Publication Information

Pössel, Patrick, Nina C. Martin, Judy Garber and Martin Hautzinger. "A Randomized Controlled Trial of a Cognitive-Behavioral Program for the Prevention of Depression in Adolescents Compared to Nonspecific and No-Intervention Control Conditions." 2013. Journal of Counseling Psychology 60(3): 432-438.