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Mental health

University of New South Wales

  • Early-Mid Career Fellowship
Date Funded:
  • 2 February, 2017
Chief Investigator/s:
  • Dr. Aliza Werner-Seidler

The promise of e-health interventions as a solution to overcome current healthcare challenges such as accessibility and cost have been hampered by poor translation into the community. Despite major advances in the availability of evidence-based mental health programs there is a serious shortfall in the delivery of such programs in practice, with an estimated 17-year delay between the identification of an effective program and its integration into practice and policy domains (IOM, 2001; Westfall, 2007). A significant contributor to this problem is the lack of available skills and knowledge to conduct rigorous interdisciplinary implementation science research.

The goal of this project is to inform the implementation of an evidence-based e-health intervention to prevent the onset of depression in youth. The intervention, SPARX, is a six-session online ‘serious game’, based on the principles of Cognitive Behaviour Therapy, which we have adapted into a prevention program (SPARX-R) for adolescents. In an randomised-controlled trial conducted across 10 Sydney high schools we showed that SPARX-R prevents the onset of depression, with gains maintained at 6-month follow up (Perry et al., 2005; the trial is ongoing and 18-month outcomes are expected in August 2016). SPARX-R does not require extensive training to support its delivery, making ideal for the school context.