Conduct a pilot trial testing whether a new cognitive-behavioral (CB) group prevention program that incorporated cognitive-dissonance change principles was feasible and appeared effective in reducing depressive symptoms and major depressive disorder onset relative to a brochure control condition in college students with elevated depressive symptoms.
59 college students (M age = 21.8, SD = 2.3; 68% female, 70% White) were randomized to the 6-session Change Ahead group or educational brochure control condition, completing assessments at pretest, posttest, and 3-month follow-up.
Recruitment and screening methods were effective and intervention attendance was high (86% attended all 6 sessions). Change Ahead participants showed medium-large reductions in depressive symptoms at posttest (M d = 0.64), though the effect attenuated by 3-month follow-up. Incidence of major depression onset at 3-month follow-up was 4% for Change Ahead participants versus 13% (difference ns).
Change Ahead appears highly feasible and showed positive indications of reduced acute phase depressive symptoms and MDD onset relative to a minimal intervention control in this initial pilot. Given the brevity of the intervention, its apparent feasibility, and the lack of evidence-based depression prevention programs for college students, continued evaluation of Change Ahead appears warranted.
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