Smartphone application for preventing depression: Study protocol for a workplace randomised controlled trial

Publication Type:
Journal Article
BMJ Open, 2018, 8 (7)
Issue Date:
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© Author(s) (or their employer(s)) 2018. Re-use permitted under CC BY-NC. No commercial re-use. See rights and permissions. Published by BMJ. Introduction Depression is the leading cause of life years lost due to disability. Appropriate prevention has the potential to reduce the incidence of new cases of depression, however, traditional prevention approaches face significant scalability issues. Prevention programmes delivered by via smartphone applications provide a potential solution. The workplace is an ideal setting to roll out this form of intervention, particularly among industries that are unlikely to access traditional health initiatives and whose workplace characteristics create accessibility and portability issues. The study aims to evaluate the effectiveness of a smartphone application designed to prevent depression and improve well-being. The effectiveness of the app as a universal, selective and indicated prevention tool will also be evaluated. Methods and analysis A multicentre randomised controlled trial, to determine the effectiveness of the intervention compared with an active mood monitoring control in reducing depressive symptoms (primary outcome) and the prevalence of depression at 3 months, with secondary outcomes assessing well-being and work performance. Employees from a range of industries will be invited to participate. Participants with likely current depression at baseline will be excluded. Following baseline assessment, participants, blinded to their allocation, will be randomised to receive one of two versions of the application: headgear (a 30-day mental health intervention) or a control application (mood monitoring for 30 days). Both versions of the app contain a risk calculator to provide a measure of future risk. Analyses will be conducted within an intention-To-Treat framework using mixed modelling, with additional analyses conducted to compare the moderating effect of baseline risk level and depression symptom severity on the intervention's effectiveness. Ethics and dissemination The current trial has received ethics approval from the University of New South Wales Human Research Ethics Committee (HC17021). Study results will be disseminated through peer-reviewed journals and conferences. Trial registration number ACTRN12617000548336; Results.
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