Randomized Trial of a Single-Session Growth Mind-Set Intervention for Rural Adolescents' Internalizing and Externalizing Problems

J Clin Child Adolesc Psychol. 2020 Sep-Oct;49(5):660-672. doi: 10.1080/15374416.2019.1622123. Epub 2019 Jun 20.


Adolescents living in rural regions of the United States face substantial barriers to accessing mental health services, creating needs for more accessible, nonstigmatizing, briefer interventions. Research suggests that single-session "growth mind-set" interventions (GM-SSIs)-which teach the belief that personal traits are malleable through effort-may reduce internalizing and externalizing problems in adolescents. However, GM-SSIs have not been evaluated among rural youth, and their effects on internalizing and externalizing problems have not been assessed within a single trial, rendering their relative benefits for different problem types unclear. We examined whether a computerized GM-SSI could reduce depressive symptoms, social anxiety symptoms, and conduct problems in female adolescents from rural areas of the United States. Tenth-grade female adolescents (N = 222, M age = 15.2, 38% White, 25% Black, 29% Hispanic) from 4 rural, low-income high schools in the southeastern United States were randomized to receive a 45-min GM-SSI or a computer-based active control program, teaching healthy sexual behaviors. Young women self-reported depression symptoms, social anxiety symptoms, and conduct problem behaviors at baseline and 4-month follow-up. Relative to the female students in the control group, the students receiving the GM-SSI reported modest but significantly greater reductions in depressive symptoms (d= .23) and likelihood of reporting elevated depressive symptoms (d= .29) from baseline to follow-up. GM-SSI effects were nonsignificant for social anxiety symptoms, although a small effect size emerged in the hypothesized direction (d= .21), and nonsignificant for change in conduct problems (d= .01). A free-of-charge 45-min GM-SSI may help reduce internalizing distress, especially depression-but not conduct problems-in rural female adolescents.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Depression / psychology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mind-Body Therapies / methods*
  • Problem Behavior / psychology*
  • Self Report
  • Surveys and Questionnaires