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J Affect Disord. 2012 Dec 15;142(1-3):106-14. doi: 10.1016/j.jad.2012.03.050. Epub 2012 Jul 26.

Effectiveness of a universal school-based programme for preventing depression in Chinese adolescents: a quasi-experimental pilot study.

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  • 1Department of Social work and Social Administration, Faculty of Social Sciences, The University of Hong Kong, Pokfulam, Hong Kong. Electropaulw@hku.hk



Evidence of the effectiveness, rather than efficacy, of universal school-based programmes for preventing depression among adolescents is limited. This study examined the effectiveness of a universal depression prevention programme, "The Little Prince is Depressed" (LPD), which adopted the cognitive-behavioural model and aimed to reduce depressive symptoms and enhance protective factors of depression among secondary school students in Hong Kong.


A quasi-experimental design was adopted for this pilot study. Thirteen classes were assigned to the intervention or control conditions according to the deliberation of the programme administrator of the four participating schools. Implementation was carried out in two phases, with a professional-led first phase and teacher-led programme second phase. LPD consisted of a 12-week school-based face-to-face programme with psycho-educational lessons and homework assignments.


Students completed the programme generally showed positive development in help-seeking attitudes and self-esteem. For students who had more depressive symptoms at pre-assessment, the programme was found to be significant in enhancing cognitive-restructuring skills and support-seeking behaviours. The programme was not, however, found to be statistically significant in reducing depressive symptoms of the participants over the study period.


A small sample size, a high attrition rate, and a short follow-up time frame.


The LPD programme was successful in building resilience of the students in general and enhancing the cognitive-behavioural skills of students with depressive symptoms. While we did not find sufficient evidence for concluding that the LPD was effective in reducing depressive symptoms, we believe that these results highlight the challenges of implementing evidence-based practices generated from highly controlled environments in real-life settings.

Copyright © 2012 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

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