Australian school-based prevention and early intervention programs for anxiety and depression: a systematic review

Med J Aust. 2007 Mar 19;186(6):305-8. doi: 10.5694/j.1326-5377.2007.tb00906.x.


Objective: To establish the nature and efficacy of Australian school-based prevention and early intervention programs for anxiety and depression.

Data sources: Cochrane, PsychInfo and PubMed databases, and the Primary Mental Health Care Australian Resource Centre database, were searched in June 2006. Additional materials were obtained from program websites, reference lists and authors.

Study selection: Programs that were developed in Australia or trialled in Australia and addressed anxiety, depression, or resilience were included.

Data synthesis: 24 efficacy or effectiveness trials of 9 intervention programs were identified. Most were based on cognitive behaviour therapy, interpersonal therapy or psychoeducation. Six were universal interventions, two were indicated programs and one was a treatment program. Most were associated with short-term improvements or symptom reduction at follow-up.

Conclusions: A number of schools programs produce positive outcomes. However, even well established programs require further evaluation to establish readiness for broad dissemination as outlined in the standards of the Society for Prevention Research.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Anxiety / epidemiology
  • Anxiety / prevention & control*
  • Anxiety / psychology
  • Australia / epidemiology
  • Clinical Trials as Topic / methods
  • Depression / epidemiology
  • Depression / prevention & control*
  • Depression / psychology
  • Humans
  • Prevalence
  • Primary Prevention / organization & administration*
  • Prognosis
  • Program Evaluation / methods*
  • Schools*