A Mobile Phone Intervention to Improve Psychosocial Treatment Adherence for Adolescents with Mood Disorders

Robin Gearing1; 1University of Houston

Purpose: Over a third of adolescents terminate prematurely from community-based mental health treatment. Poor adherence remains a fundamental challenge in the treatment of mood disorders. Tech Connect is a proactive, technology-assisted intervention of manualized between-session contacts and structural supports to increase adherence of adolescents with depression who are at high risk of dropout from treatment. To test Tech Connect in a RCT with depressed adolescents by assessing feasibility; estimating preliminary intervention parameters; and investigating adherence and mental health outcomes. Materials and Methods: Tech Connect was pilot tested in a 2-arm RCT with depressed youths (13-17 years) initiating outpatient mental health services Youth were randomized to Tech Connect or standard community-based mental health care. Across their first 8 sessions, adherence promoters were delivered in 11 brief, personalized between-session contacts. Standardized measures assessed mental health symptoms, outcomes, and adherence. Results: Pilot results found significant differences between the number of treatment sessions attended by the adolescents assigned to Tech Connect and those of the control group. Adolescents receiving Tech Connect attended 94% (mean 7.5 sessions; SD 1.58) of their initial eight sessions, while 66% (mean 5.3 sessions; SD 3.09) attended in the control condition. Conclusion: All adolescents in the treatment condition attended the first treatment session, with 90% attending the targeted first 8 sessions; whereas only 40% of adolescents in the control condition completed the first 8 sessions. The Tech Connect Program is a novel, technologically-driven intervention designed in address this gap by improving engagement and adherence to psychosocial treatment.

Topic Area: Psychosocial Interventions

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