Online single-session interventions for Kenyan adolescents: study protocol for a comparative effectiveness randomized controlled trial

Transforming mental health for all

Background

Mental health problems are the leading cause of disability among adolescents worldwide, yet access to treatment is limited. Brief digital interventions have been shown to improve youth mental health, but little is known about which digital interventions are most effective.

Aims

To evaluate the effectiveness of two digital single-session interventions (Shamiri-Digital and Digital-CBT (cognitive-behavioural therapy)) among Kenyan adolescents.

Methods

We will perform a school-based comparative effectiveness randomised controlled trial. Approximately 926 Kenyan adolescents will be randomly assigned to one of three conditions: Shamiri-Digital (focused on gratitude, growth mindsets and values), Digital-CBT (focused on behavioural activation, cognitive restructuring and problem solving) or a study-skills control condition (focused on note-taking and essay writing skills). The primary outcomes include depressive symptoms (measured by the Patient Health Questionnaire-8), anxiety symptoms (Generalized Anxiety Disorder Screener-7) and subjective well-being (Short Warwick-Edinburgh Mental Well-being Scale). The secondary outcomes include acceptability, appropriateness, primary control and secondary control. Acceptability and appropriateness will be measured immediately post-intervention; other outcomes will be measured 2 weeks, 4 weeks and 12 weeks post-intervention.

Results

We hypothesise that adolescents assigned to Shamiri-Digital and adolescents assigned to Digital-CBT will experience greater improvements (assessed via hierarchical linear models) than those assigned to the control group. We will also compare Shamiri-Digital with Digital-CBT, although we do not have a preplanned hypothesis.

Conclusions

Our findings will help us evaluate two digital single-session interventions with different theoretical foundations. If effective, such interventions could be disseminated to reduce the public health burden of common mental health problems.

Trial registration number: PACTR202011691886690

Keywords: depression, anxiety, adolescent psychiatry, cognitive behavioural therapy, psychotherapy, brief

read full article