Testing Mechanisms of Change for Text Message-Delivered Cognitive Behavioral Therapy: Randomized Clinical Trial for Young Adult Depression.

Publication date: Jul 11, 2023

Current psychiatric epidemiological evidence estimates that 17% of young adults (aged 18-25 years) experienced a major depressive episode in 2020, relative to 8. 4% of all adults aged ≥26 years. Young adults with a major depressive episode in the past year are the least likely to receive treatment for depression compared with other age groups. We conducted a randomized clinical trial following our initial 4-week SMS text message-delivered cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT-txt) for depression in young adults. We sought to test mechanisms of change for CBT-txt. Based on participant feedback, outcome data, and the empirical literature, we increased the treatment dosage from 4-8 weeks and tested 3 mechanisms of change with 103 young adults in the United States. Participants were from 34 states, recruited from Facebook and Instagram and presenting with at least moderate depressive symptomatology. Web-based assessments occurred at baseline prior to randomization and at 1, 2, and 3 months after enrollment. The primary outcome, the severity of depressive symptoms, was assessed using the Beck Depression Inventory II. Behavioral activation, perseverative thinking, and cognitive distortions were measured as mechanisms of change. Participants were randomized to CBT-txt or a waitlist control condition. Those assigned to the CBT-txt intervention condition received 474 fully automated SMS text messages, delivered every other day over a 64-day period and averaging 14. 8 (SD 2. 4) SMS text messages per treatment day. Intervention texts are delivered via TextIt, a web-based automated SMS text messaging platform. Across all 3 months of the study, participants in the CBT-txt group showed significantly larger decreases in depressive symptoms than those in the control group (P

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Concepts Keywords
Adults Adolescent
Depressive Adult
Instagram Behavior Therapy
Trial Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
cognitive behavioral therapy
Depressive Disorder, Major
mHealth treatment
mobile health treatment
mobile phone
randomized clinical trial
Text Messaging
Young Adult
young adults


Type Source Name
disease MESH Depressive Disorder Major

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