The objective of this study was to evaluate the current state of evidence of the effectiveness of depression prevention programs for youth, assess the degree to which current evidence supports broad implementation, and outline additional steps needed to close the gap between effectiveness and dissemination.
We used the Society for Prevention Research's Standards of Evidence (Flay et al., 2005 ) to evaluate the degree to which existing depression prevention programs have established intervention efficacy, effectiveness, and readiness for dissemination. We reviewed all depression prevention programs for youth that have been evaluated in at least two published, randomized controlled trials in which the intervention was compared to a no-intervention control group.
A total of 37 studies evaluating 11 different programs were reviewed with regard to depressive symptoms and diagnoses at postintervention and follow-up (at least 6 months). Eight programs demonstrated significant main effects on depressive symptoms relative to controls in multiple randomized controlled trials; 5 programs had at least 1 trial with significant main effects present at least 1 year postintervention. Two programs demonstrated efficacy for both depressive symptoms and depressive episodes across multiple independent trials.
Regarding effectiveness, 6 programs had at least 1 study showing significant effects when delivered by endogenous service providers; 4 programs had significant effects in studies conducted independently of the program developers. Several programs have demonstrated promise in terms of efficacy, but no depression prevention program for children or adolescents as yet has garnered sufficient evidence of effectiveness under real-world conditions to warrant widespread dissemination at this time.
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