Year: 2023 Source: BMC Psychiatry. (2022). 22, 746. SIEC No: 20230280
Background Depression is a leading cause of disability in adolescents, however few receive evidence-based treatment. Despite having the potential to overcome barriers to treatment uptake and adherence, there are very few CBT-based smartphone apps for adolescents. To address this gap, we developed ClearlyMe®, a self-guided CBT smartphone app for adolescent depression and anxiety. ClearlyMe® consists of 37 brief lessons containing core CBT elements, accessed either individually or as part of a ‘collection’. Here, we describe the protocol for a randomised controlled trial aiming to evaluate the effect of ClearlyMe® on depressive symptoms and secondary outcomes, including engagement, anxiety and wellbeing, when delivered with and without guided support compared to an attention matched control. Methods We aim to recruit 489 adolescents aged 12-17 years with mild to moderately-severe depressive symptoms. Participants will be screened for inclusion, complete the baseline assessment and are then randomly allocated to receive ClearlyMe® (self-directed use), ClearlyMe® with guided SMS support (guided use) or digital psychoeducation (attention-matched control). Depressive symptoms and secondary outcomes will be assessed at 6-weeks (primary endpoint) and 4-months post-baseline (secondary endpoint). Engagement, conceptualised as uptake, adherence and completion, will also be assessed 6-weeks post-baseline. Mixed-effects linear modelling will be used to conduct intention-to-treat analyses to determine whether reductions in depressive symptoms and secondary outcomes are greater for conditions receiving ClearlyMe® relative to control at 6-weeks and 4-months post-baseline and greater for intervention adherers relative to non-adherers. To minimise risk, participants will be encouraged to use the Get Help section of the app and can also opt to receive a call from the team clinical psychologist at baseline, and at the 6-week and 4-month post-baseline assessments when reporting suicidal ideation. Discussion This is the first clinical trial examining a CBT smartphone app specifically designed for adolescent depression. It will provide empirical evidence on the effects of ClearlyMe® on depressive symptoms when used with and without guided support.