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      The Web-Based Uprise Program for Mental Health in Australian University Students: Protocol for a Pilot Randomized Controlled Trial


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          University students are vulnerable to poor mental health, psychological distress, and loneliness relative to nonuniversity student peers. However, the rate of seeking mental health treatment among university students is low. Web-based psychological interventions may provide an opportunity for supporting vulnerable university students who are unlikely to otherwise seek support.


          The aim of this study is to examine the feasibility, acceptability, safety, and efficacy of an existing web-based transdiagnostic cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) mental health program for use among Australian university students.


          This is a pilot randomized controlled trial comparing a self-directed web-based CBT mental health program with a waitlist control. The self-directed modules will be augmented with optional webchat or telephone coaching with a therapist. The recruitment target is 70 university students who do not present with a clinical mental health disorder. Allocation will be made in a 1:1 ratio and will occur after the initial baseline assessment. Assessments will be completed at baseline, upon completion of a 4-week waitlist (waitlist group only), upon completion of the program, and at 3 months after completion of the program.


          The trial was funded in June 2018, and the protocol was approved by the Swinburne University Human Research Ethics Committee in September 2018. Recruitment commenced in October 2018, with the first participant allocated in November 2018. A total of 70 participants were recruited to the trial. The trial recruitment ceased in June 2019, and data collection was finalized in December 2019. We expect the final data analysis to be completed by November 2020 and results to be published early in 2021. The primary outcomes are feasibility, acceptability, safety, and symptoms of depression, anxiety, and stress. The secondary outcomes are psychological wellbeing, quality of life, loneliness, self-reported physical health status, emotion regulation, and cognitive and mindfulness processes.


          The acceptability, feasibility, safety, and efficacy of a web-based mental health program in university students will be evaluated. Web-based mental health programs offer the opportunity to engage university students who may be reluctant to seek support through traditional face-to-face mental health services, and the transdiagnostic approach of the program has the potential to address the breadth of mental health concerns of university students.

          Trial Registration

          Australian New Zealand Clinical Trial Registry ACTRN12618001604291; https://www.anzctr.org.au/Trial/Registration/TrialReview.aspx?ACTRN=12618001604291

          International Registered Report Identifier (IRRID)


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            Regression methods were used to select and score 12 items from the Medical Outcomes Study 36-Item Short-Form Health Survey (SF-36) to reproduce the Physical Component Summary and Mental Component Summary scales in the general US population (n=2,333). The resulting 12-item short-form (SF-12) achieved multiple R squares of 0.911 and 0.918 in predictions of the SF-36 Physical Component Summary and SF-36 Mental Component Summary scores, respectively. Scoring algorithms from the general population used to score 12-item versions of the two components (Physical Components Summary and Mental Component Summary) achieved R squares of 0.905 with the SF-36 Physical Component Summary and 0.938 with SF-36 Mental Component Summary when cross-validated in the Medical Outcomes Study. Test-retest (2-week)correlations of 0.89 and 0.76 were observed for the 12-item Physical Component Summary and the 12-item Mental Component Summary, respectively, in the general US population (n=232). Twenty cross-sectional and longitudinal tests of empirical validity previously published for the 36-item short-form scales and summary measures were replicated for the 12-item Physical Component Summary and the 12-item Mental Component Summary, including comparisons between patient groups known to differ or to change in terms of the presence and seriousness of physical and mental conditions, acute symptoms, age and aging, self-reported 1-year changes in health, and recovery for depression. In 14 validity tests involving physical criteria, relative validity estimates for the 12-item Physical Component Summary ranged from 0.43 to 0.93 (median=0.67) in comparison with the best 36-item short-form scale. Relative validity estimates for the 12-item Mental Component Summary in 6 tests involving mental criteria ranged from 0.60 to 107 (median=0.97) in relation to the best 36-item short-form scale. Average scores for the 2 summary measures, and those for most scales in the 8-scale profile based on the 12-item short-form, closely mirrored those for the 36-item short-form, although standard errors were nearly always larger for the 12-item short-form.
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                Author and article information

                JMIR Res Protoc
                JMIR Res Protoc
                JMIR Research Protocols
                JMIR Publications (Toronto, Canada )
                December 2020
                4 December 2020
                : 9
                : 12
                : e21307
                [1 ] Iverson Health Innovation Research Institute Swinburne University of Technology Hawthorn Australia
                [2 ] Center for Healthy Aging The Pennsylvania State University University Park, PA United States
                [3 ] Centre for Mental Health Swinburne University of Technology Hawthorn Australia
                Author notes
                Corresponding Author: Michelle H Lim mlim@ 123456swin.edu.au
                Author information
                ©Karra D Harrington, Robert Eres, Michelle H Lim. Originally published in JMIR Research Protocols (http://www.researchprotocols.org), 04.12.2020.

                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 http://www.researchprotocols.org, as well as this copyright and license information must be included.

                : 10 June 2020
                : 22 August 2020
                : 4 September 2020
                : 8 September 2020

                digital technology,e-mental health,university students,mental health,randomized controlled trial


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