Youth Cognitive-Behavioral Depression Prevention: Testing Theory In A Randomized Controlled Trial

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Cognitive Therapy And Research


This study tested the plausibility of a theoretical model of change for the Penn Resiliency Program (PRP), a cognitive-behavioral (CB) depression prevention program for adolescents. Middle school students (N = 697) were randomized to PRP, an assessment-only control condition (CON), or a placebo-control condition (PLA). Explanatory style and depressive symptoms were evaluated over 24 months of follow-up. Relative to both CON and PLA, there were significant indirect effects of PRP on 12-month levels of depressive symptoms through improvements in explanatory style in two of three participating schools. Within a third school, where PRP was not effective in targeting depressive symptoms (Gillham et al. in J Consult Clin Psychol 75(1):9–19, 2007), there was no evidence of group differences in growth in explanatory style or indirect effects. When effective, PRP’s CB training provides incremental value over non-specific components and there are indirect effects on depressive symptoms through improvements in explanatory style.


Prevention, Depression, Explanatory style, Mediators, Placebo-control