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Smartphone application for preventing depression: study protocol for a workplace randomised controlled trial
  1. Mark Deady1,
  2. David A Johnston1,
  3. Nick Glozier2,
  4. David Milne3,4,
  5. Isabella Choi2,
  6. Andrew Mackinnon1,
  7. Arnstein Mykletun5,
  8. Rafael A Calvo3,
  9. Aimee Gayed6,
  10. Richard Bryant7,
  11. Helen Christensen1,
  12. Samuel B Harvey1
  1. 1 Black Dog Institute, Faculty of Medicine, University of New South Wales, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
  2. 2 Brain and Mind Centre, University of Sydney, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
  3. 3 School of Electrical and Information Engineering, University of Sydney, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
  4. 4 School of Systems Management and Leadership, University of Technology Sydney, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
  5. 5 Norwegian Institute of Public Health, Oslo, Norway
  6. 6 School of Psychiatry, UNSW, Sydney, NSW, Australia
  7. 7 School of Psychology, UNSW, Sydney, NSW, Australia
  1. Correspondence to Dr Mark Deady; m.deady{at}unsw.edu.au

Abstract

Introduction Depression is the leading cause of life years lost due to disability. Appropriate prevention has the potential to reduce the incidence of new cases of depression, however, traditional prevention approaches face significant scalability issues. Prevention programmes delivered by via smartphone applications provide a potential solution. The workplace is an ideal setting to roll out this form of intervention, particularly among industries that are unlikely to access traditional health initiatives and whose workplace characteristics create accessibility and portability issues. The study aims to evaluate the effectiveness of a smartphone application designed to prevent depression and improve well-being. The effectiveness of the app as a universal, selective and indicated prevention tool will also be evaluated.

Methods and analysis A multicentre randomised controlled trial, to determine the effectiveness of the intervention compared with an active mood monitoring control in reducing depressive symptoms (primary outcome) and the prevalence of depression at 3 months, with secondary outcomes assessing well-being and work performance. Employees from a range of industries will be invited to participate. Participants with likely current depression at baseline will be excluded. Following baseline assessment, participants, blinded to their allocation, will be randomised to receive one of two versions of the application: headgear (a 30-day mental health intervention) or a control application (mood monitoring for 30 days). Both versions of the app contain a risk calculator to provide a measure of future risk. Analyses will be conducted within an intention-to-treat framework using mixed modelling, with additional analyses conducted to compare the moderating effect of baseline risk level and depression symptom severity on the intervention’s effectiveness.

Ethics and dissemination The current trial has received ethics approval from the University of New South Wales Human Research Ethics Committee (HC17021). Study results will be disseminated through peer-reviewed journals and conferences.

Trial registration number ACTRN12617000548336; Results.

  • depression
  • workplace
  • prevention
  • mhealth

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Footnotes

  • Contributors MD had a primary role in conceptualisation, write up and editing of this manuscript. DAJ had a role in conceptualisation, write up and editing of this manuscript. NG had a role in conceptualisation and editing of this manuscript. DM had a role in technical development and editing of this manuscript. IC had a role in conceptualisation, write up and editing of this manuscript. AM had a role in statistical conceptualisation and editing of this manuscript. AM had a role in conceptualisation and editing of this manuscript. RAC had a role in write up and editing of this manuscript. AG had a role in write up and editing of this manuscript. RB had a role in write up and editing of this manuscript. HC had a role in write up and editing of this manuscript. SBH (Senior author) had a role in conceptualisation, write up and editing of this manuscript. All authors read and approved of the final manuscript.

  • Funding This study was developed in partnership with beyondblue with donations from the Movember Foundation. RAC is funded by an Australian Research Council Future Fellowship FT140100824. SBH and MD are supported by funding from the iCare Foundation and NSW Health.

  • Disclaimer This paper summarises independent research and the views expressed herein are those of the authors.

  • Competing interests All authors declared that this is a beyondblue-funded study. All researchers have remained independent from the funders in the completion and submission of this work. MD, DAJ, IC, NG, DM, RAC and SBH were involved in the development of the headgear application. The IP is jointly owned by MD, IC, NG, DM, RAC and SBH, however, the authors do not currently receive any financial gain from this IP.

  • Patient consent Not required.

  • Ethics approval The trial has received ethics approval from the University of New South Wales Human Research Ethics Committee (HC17021).

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

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