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      A Mobile Peer Intervention for Preventing Mental Health and Substance Use Problems in Adolescents: Protocol for a Randomized Controlled Trial (The Mind Your Mate Study)

      , BsocSc, BPsych(Hons), PhD 1 , , BPsych(Hons) 1 , , , BA(Hons), PhD 1 , , BPsych(Hons), PhD 1
      (Reviewer), (Reviewer)
      JMIR Research Protocols
      JMIR Publications
      prevention, mental health, substance use, peer support, depression, anxiety, help-seeking, mobile phone

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          Anxiety, mood, and substance use disorders have significant social and economic impacts, which are largely attributable to their early age of onset and chronic disabling course. Therefore, it is critical to intervene early to prevent chronic and debilitating trajectories.


          This paper describes the study protocol of a CONSORT (Consolidated Standards of Reporting Trials)-compliant randomized controlled trial for evaluating the effectiveness of the Mind your Mate program, a mobile health (mHealth) peer intervention that aims to prevent mental health (focusing on anxiety and depression) and substance use problems in adolescents.


          Participants will consist of approximately 840 year 9 or year 10 students (60 students per grade per school) from 14 New South Wales high schools in Sydney, Australia. Schools will be recruited from a random selection of independent and public schools across the New South Wales Greater Sydney Area by using publicly available contact details. The intervention will consist of 1 introductory classroom lesson and a downloadable mobile app that will be available for use for 12 months. Schools will be randomly allocated to receive either the mHealth peer intervention or a waitlist control (health education as usual). All students will be given web-based self-assessments at baseline and at 6- and 12-month follow-ups. The primary outcomes of the trial will be the self-reported use of alcohol and drugs, anxiety and depression symptoms, knowledge about mental health and substance use, motives for not drinking, and willingness to seek help. Secondary outcomes will include positive well-being, the quality of life, and the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Analyses will be conducted using mixed-effects linear regression analyses for normally distributed data and mixed-effects logistic regression analyses for categorical data.


          The Mind your Mate study was funded by an Australian Rotary Health Bruce Edwards Postdoctoral Research Fellowship from 2019 to 2022. Some of the development costs for the Mind your Mate intervention came from a seed funding grant from the Brain and Mind Centre of the University of Sydney. The enrollment of schools began in July 2020; 12 of 14 schools were enrolled at the time of submission. Baseline assessments are currently underway, and the first results are expected to be submitted for publication in 2022.


          The Mind your Mate study will generate vital new knowledge about the effectiveness of a peer support prevention strategy in real-world settings for the most common mental disorders in youth. If effective, this intervention will constitute a scalable, low-cost prevention strategy that has significant potential to reduce the impact of mental and substance use disorders.

          Trial Registration

          Australian New Zealand Clinical Trials Registry ACTRN12620000753954; https://www.anzctr.org.au/Trial/Registration/TrialReview.aspx?id=379738&isReview=true

          International Registered Report Identifier (IRRID)


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          Most cited references61

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          Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) is one of the most common mental disorders; however, there is no brief clinical measure for assessing GAD. The objective of this study was to develop a brief self-report scale to identify probable cases of GAD and evaluate its reliability and validity. A criterion-standard study was performed in 15 primary care clinics in the United States from November 2004 through June 2005. Of a total of 2740 adult patients completing a study questionnaire, 965 patients had a telephone interview with a mental health professional within 1 week. For criterion and construct validity, GAD self-report scale diagnoses were compared with independent diagnoses made by mental health professionals; functional status measures; disability days; and health care use. A 7-item anxiety scale (GAD-7) had good reliability, as well as criterion, construct, factorial, and procedural validity. A cut point was identified that optimized sensitivity (89%) and specificity (82%). Increasing scores on the scale were strongly associated with multiple domains of functional impairment (all 6 Medical Outcomes Study Short-Form General Health Survey scales and disability days). Although GAD and depression symptoms frequently co-occurred, factor analysis confirmed them as distinct dimensions. Moreover, GAD and depression symptoms had differing but independent effects on functional impairment and disability. There was good agreement between self-report and interviewer-administered versions of the scale. The GAD-7 is a valid and efficient tool for screening for GAD and assessing its severity in clinical practice and research.
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                Author and article information

                JMIR Res Protoc
                JMIR Res Protoc
                JMIR Research Protocols
                JMIR Publications (Toronto, Canada )
                July 2021
                30 July 2021
                : 10
                : 7
                : e26796
                [1 ] The Matilda Centre for Research in Mental Health and Substance Use The University of Sydney Sydney Australia
                Author notes
                Corresponding Author: Ainsley Furneaux-Bate ainsley.furneaux-bate@ 123456sydney.edu.au
                Author information
                ©Louise Birrell, Ainsley Furneaux-Bate, Cath Chapman, Nicola C Newton. Originally published in JMIR Research Protocols (https://www.researchprotocols.org), 30.07.2021.

                This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License ( https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work, first published in JMIR Research Protocols, is properly cited. The complete bibliographic information, a link to the original publication on https://www.researchprotocols.org, as well as this copyright and license information must be included.

                : 27 December 2020
                : 18 March 2021
                : 17 May 2021
                : 11 June 2021

                prevention,mental health,substance use,peer support,depression,anxiety,help-seeking,mobile phone


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