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Review: selective and indicated programmes are more effective than universal programmes for preventing depression in children and adolescents at 6 month follow-up

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Q How effective are selective, indicated and universal depression prevention programmes for children and adolescents?


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Systematic review with meta analysis.

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PsycINFO (search date not stated), unpublished dissertations plus hand searches of reference lists and journals publishing relevant studies (from 1971 onwards).

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Eligible studies were randomised controlled trials (RCTs) of interventions preventing depressive symptoms or disorders in children and adolescents <21 years, using generally accepted symptom measures (not defined). Data were extracted on intervention, number of participants, length of intervention and follow-up. Intervention programmes were classified as universal (delivered to all members of target population), selective (delivered to people above average risk of depression) or indicated (delivered to people with subclinical signs or symptoms of depression). Effect sizes (ES) were calculated using Cohen’s d. ES for self-report measures of symptoms were used being the only consistent method of assessment between studies. ES were …

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  • For correspondence: Jason L Horowitz or Judy Garber, Department of Psychology and Human Development, Peabody 512, Vanderbilt University, 230 Appleton Place, Nashville, TN 37203-5721, USA; jason.horowitz{at} or judy.garber{at}

  • Sources of funding: National Institute of Mental Health and William T Grant Foundation, USA.