Research on the prevention of depressive symptoms in children and adolescents was reviewed and synthesized with meta-analysis.
When all 30 studies were included, selective prevention programs were found to be more effective than universal programs immediately following intervention. Both selective and indicated prevention programs were more effective than universal programs at follow-up, even when the 2 studies with college students were excluded.
Effect sizes for selective and indicated prevention programs tended to be small to moderate, both immediately postintervention and at an average follow-up of 6 months. Most effective interventions are more accurately described as treatment rather than prevention.
Suggestions for future research include testing potential moderators (e.g., age, gender, anxiety, parental depression) and mechanisms, designing programs that are developmentally appropriate and gender and culturally sensitive. including longer follow-ups, and using multiple measures and methods to assess both symptoms and diagnoses.
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