Adolescent mental health: Design of a web-based adolescent depression and prediction tool

Lead researcher
Dr Ajay Thapar, NISCHR Senior Research Fellow (Psychological Medicine and Primary Care)

To determine parent and professional perspectives on the use of web-based Adolescent depression and detection tool for use by parents, health professionals and professionals working in school settings. To modify the tool in accordance with these perspectives.

Unipolar depressive disorder in adolescence is common worldwide but often unrecognised. Depression brings substantial current and future morbidity and heightens risk of suicide. with an estimated 12-month prevalence of 4-5% in mid-late adolescence. Adolescent depression is a major risk factor for suicide, the second-to-third leading cause of death in this age group, with more than half of adolescent suicide victims reported as having a depressive disorder at time of death. Depression also leads to marked social and educational impairments, and elevated health risks that include smoking, substance misuse, and obesity. It is thus important to recognise and treat.

The costs associated with mental health problems in adolescents (of which depression is a major co-morbidity) are substantial with estimates of direct medical costs (including morbidity and mortality) for children younger than 15 years of $2 billion in 1985 and for all related costs, including costs of juvenile justice and educational programs as high as $20 billion.

Summary of study design
Two researchers will be given a short training session in qualitative interview techniques. Parents who have participated in the 5 year longitudinal study and who have indicated they are happy to be approached again for future research will be contacted and asked if they would like to be included. Those who indicate they are happy to be interviewed will be invited to attend for an interview either at their own home (fathers) or to two focus groups (mothers) Those who attend for interview will be asked to provide written consent including for audio taping the interview. Two researchers will conduct the semi-structured interviews. The interviews will be audio taped and transcribed. A group of health and education professionals will also be invited to attend for an interview to ascertain their perspectives on obtaining this information and on the use of a web-based adolescent depression detection and prediction tool. The tool will be modified and tested by the participating professionals to obtain pilot data required for a full grant application.

Total awarded