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‘DISCOVER’ one-day cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) workshops have been developed to provide accessible, developmentally sensitive psychological support for older adolescents experiencing emotional difficulties. Previous school-based evaluations of the DISCOVER model have shown positive outcomes.
The current study aimed to test the model for clinically referred adolescents, in real-world settings.
A randomized controlled trial (RCT) assessed feasibility, acceptability and preliminary outcomes of the DISCOVER intervention, in comparison with usual care, for 15- to 18-year-olds with emotional difficulties. Participants were recruited from outpatient clinic waiting lists in UK child and adolescent mental health services (CAMHS). Research feasibility indicators included rates of recruitment, randomization, intervention participation (group workshops and individualized follow-up telephone calls), and data collection (at baseline and 8-week follow-up). Intervention acceptability was assessed using a structured service satisfaction questionnaire and semi-structured qualitative interviews with intervention participants. Preliminary clinical outcomes were explored using adolescent-reported validated measures of depression, anxiety and well-being.
n = 24 participants were randomized to intervention and usual care groups. Workshop attendance was good and high levels of treatment satisfaction were reported, although feasibility challenges emerged in recruitment and randomization. Trends were found towards potential improvements in anxiety and well-being for the intervention group, but the effect estimate for depression was imprecise; interpretability was also limited due to the small sample size.
DISCOVER appears to be a feasible and acceptable intervention model for clinically referred 15- to 18-year-olds with emotional difficulties. A full-scale RCT is warranted to evaluate effectiveness; protocol modifications may be necessary to ensure feasible recruitment and randomization procedures.