Moderated online social therapy for depression relapse prevention: Outcomes from the Latitudes 12-week pilot study

Presentation First Author: 
Mario Alvarez-Jimenez

Introduction: Major depressive disorder (MDD) is the leading cause of disability for Australians from late adolescence through mid-adulthood. Most sufferers of MDD develop recurrent depression, which will show a worsening pattern of severity, frequency and lack of responsiveness to initially effective treatments. Relapse of MDD generates staggering costs for the health care sector, enormous secondary economic and productivity losses and significant impairment for the individual.

Objectives: This presentation reports on the study rationale and outcome data for the Latitudes pilot study for relapse prevention of MDD in young people. The study was designed to evaluate the feasibility, acceptability, safety and initial treatment benefits of an innovative online psychosocial intervention providing step-down support following acute phase treatment. Latitudes uses the moderated online social therapy (MOST) model, drawing together a comprehensive online platform that integrates innovative real-time social networking functionality, real-time peer-to-peer and expert mental health clinician input, individualised vocational and educational support, and interactive novel evidence based therapeutic content.

Methods: A total of 31 participants (13 males) were recruited from the Youth Mood Clinic and participating headspace early intervention centres. All participants were nearing discharge (e.g., in, or approaching, symptom remission for MDD) and had access to the Latitudes intervention for 3-months post study entry.

Results: During the pilot there was an average of 58.5 log-ins per user, with 68% of users logging on >10 times. Participants completed an average of 5 therapy modules. The social networking features were used by all participants, with an average of 43.3 posts per user. There were no adverse incidents, nor were there inappropriate posts reported to administrators. At baseline, 26 participants (84%) met criteria for MDD in partial remission, with 5 participants (16%) being in full remission. At follow-up, significantly more participants (n=16; 52%) met criteria for full remission (i.e., no signs or symptoms in previous 2-months). Only 3 participants (9%) met diagnostic criteria for MDD (i.e., relapse) within the month preceding follow-up assessment. Similarly, interviewer-rated depression scores, and self-report perceived social support improved significantly between baseline and 3-month follow-up.

Conclusion: In addition to showing initial treatment benefits, results demonstrate the feasibility, acceptability and safety of the Latitudes intervention. While controlled evaluation is required to evaluate the clinical efficacy and cost-effectiveness of Latitudes, initial findings suggest that the MOST model may be an effective, engaging and highly acceptable relapse prevention strategy.

Conference Name: 
Date of Presentation: 
10th Oct 2015
Type of presentation: 
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