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JMIR Res Protoc. 2014 Feb 27;3(1):e6. doi: 10.2196/resprot.3192.

Evaluating a brief, internet-based intervention for co-occurring depression and problematic alcohol use in young people: protocol for a randomized controlled trial.

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National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre, University of New South Wales (UNSW), Sydney, Australia.



Depression and alcohol misuse represent two of the major causes of disease burden in young adults. These conditions frequently co-occur and this co-occurrence is associated with increased risks and poorer outcomes than either disorder in isolation. Integrated treatments have been shown to be effective, however, there remains a significant gap between those in need of treatment and those receiving it, particularly in young people. The increased availability of Internet-based programs to complement health care presents a unique opportunity in the treatment of these conditions.


The objective of our study was to evaluate whether a brief, Internet-based, self-help intervention (the DEAL [DEpression-ALcohol] Project) can be effective in treating co-occurring depression and problematic alcohol use in young people (18-25 years old).


The evaluation will take the form of a randomized controlled trial (RCT), comparing the DEAL Project with an attention-control condition (HealthWatch). The RCT will consist of a four-week intervention phase and a 24-week follow-up. It will be entirely Internet-based and open Australia-wide to young people 18 to 25 years old. The primary outcomes will be change in depression symptoms and alcohol use at 5, 12, and 24 weeks post baseline. Secondary outcomes include change in general functioning and quality of life, anxiety/stress symptomatology, and a number of other depression/alcohol related outcomes. Process analysis will also measure engagement across the conditions.


This study is currently ongoing with preliminary results expected in late 2014.


This study, to our knowledge, will be the first RCT of a Internet-based treatment for comorbid depression and problematic alcohol use in any age group. If successful, the program represents a novel and innovative approach to addressing the significant harms associated with these conditions and will be an invaluable resource to those not receiving help elsewhere.


Australian New Zealand Clinical Trials Registry; ACTRN12613000033741; (Archived by WebCite at


Internet-based; alcohol; comorbidity; depression; young people

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