Evaluation of a school-based cognitive-behavioral depression prevention program

Scand J Public Health. 2019 Mar;47(2):182-189. doi: 10.1177/1403494817746537. Epub 2017 Dec 11.


Aim: The aim of this study was to investigate the feasibility and cost-utility of a school-based cognitive-behavioral (CB) depression prevention program.

Methods: A quasi-experimental trial with an intervention group and a control group, with follow-up measurements obtained at three and 12 months after baseline, was conducted. The setting was six Swedish municipalities. The participants were students in grade 8 (median age: 14). A total of 462 students (79% girls) were allocated to the school-based CB prevention program, and 486 students (46% girls) were allocated to the control group. The school-based CB prevention program, Depression in Swedish Adolescents (DISA), was presented by school health service staff and teachers once per week for 10 weeks.

Results: The main outcome measures were self-reported depressive symptoms and self-rated health; the secondary outcome measures were adherence and cost-utility. The intervention group decreased their self-reported depressive symptoms (as measured by the Center for Epidemiological Studies Depression Scale) and improved their self-rated health (as measured by the visual analog scale) at the 12-month follow-up more than the control group ( p < .05).

Conclusions: Given the challenges of conducting a study in a complex, everyday school setting with baseline differences between the intervention and control group, it is difficult to make accurate interpretations of the effectiveness of the intervention. However, with these limitations in mind, the results indicate that the DISA program is a feasible school-based prevention program.

Keywords: Adolescents; depression; evaluation; prevention.

Publication types

  • Controlled Clinical Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy*
  • Depression / prevention & control*
  • Feasibility Studies
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Program Evaluation
  • Psychiatric Status Rating Scales
  • School Health Services*
  • Students / psychology*
  • Students / statistics & numerical data
  • Sweden