Category: Child / Adolescent - Depression
Introduction: Given the impairment associated with adolescent depression, it is crucial to examine the efficacy of depression prevention programs (Thapar, Collishaw, Pine, & Thapar, 2012). Interpersonal Psychotherapy-Adolescent Skills Training (IPT-AST) is an indicated group depression prevention intervention that targets interpersonal issues related to depression’s onset. In comparison with usual school counseling, IPT-AST has been shown to have a greater effect on depressive symptoms, depression diagnoses, and overall functioning (e.g., Young et al., 2016; Young, Mufson, & Gallop, 2010). Intervention research has largely focused on symptom outcomes; greater investigation of supplementary outcomes is needed (Kazdin, 2002). Few studies to date have examined changes in social skills following participation in depression prevention programs (Roberts, Kane, Thomson, Bishop, & Hart, 2003).
Objectives: This study examines changes in social skills, as reported by multiple raters, following participation in two preventative interventions, in an RCT that compared IPT-AST as delivered by research staff to group counseling (GC) provided by school counselors.
Methods: Adolescents (N=186) were randomly assigned to participate in either GC or IPT-AST for 8 weekly group sessions followed by 3 booster sessions. The Social Skills Improvement System (SSiS) was used to measure changes in social skills from baseline to 6-month follow-up across 3 respondents (student, teacher, and parent). The SSiS has a total score and seven subscales. HLM analyses, which account for the nesting of teens in groups, examined rates of change across the two conditions.
Results: Teens in both conditions reported significant improvements in social skills on all subscales through the 6-month follow-up; there were no significant differences in rates of change between the intervention groups. Teachers reported significant improvements on all subscales for IPT-AST youth and on some subscales for GC youth; there was a significant difference in rates of change on teacher-reported responsibility favoring IPT-AST (t(155) = 2.19, p = .03). Finally, parents reported significant improvements for GC youth on 4 subscales and IPT-AST youth on 1 subscale; there were no significant differences in rates of change between the intervention groups.
Conclusions: Findings indicate that youth in both conditions experienced improvements in social skills over the course of the prevention programs, with some evidence of significant differential effects on teacher-reported responsibility.