Research on SPARX
SPARX was evaluated via a large randomised controlled trial in 24 sites. There were also three doctoral projects that investigated the effectiveness of SPARX with groups of special interest.
At present a project funded by the New Zealand Health Research Council in partnership with a youth health clinic (Kapiti Youth Support) is underway, developing an online tool for health professionals to support the use of SPARX in clinical practice.
Randomised controlled trial of SPARX
Between 2009 and 2010 we conducted an evaluation of the effectiveness of SPARX through a large randomised control trial. We have compared SPARX with treatment as usual (i.e. standard care provided to young people with mild to moderate depression). We recruited 187 young people from around New Zealand, including from secondary schools, youth clinics and general practices.
Ninety-four young people received SPARX and 93 young people got standard care.
We used clinician and self-rated outcome measures to assess depression, anxiety, overall well-being, and quality of life. We collected data before and after the intervention and at a three month follow up.
SPARX among adolescents alienated from mainstream education - led by Terry Fleming.
Young people in alternative education programmes have high rates of depression and other health difficulties, and yet have more difficulty accessing health services than students in ordinary schools do. Theresa investigated the acceptability, feasibility and effectiveness of SPARX for adolescents who were in alternative education programmes for students who are excluded or alienated from mainstream education. In short, SPARX appeared to be useful for students in these settings. Read a short summary of the findings here or check out these publications:
- Fleming, T., R. Dixon, et al. (2012). "'It’s mean!’ the views of young people alienated from mainstream education on depression, help seeking and computerised therapy." Advances in Mental Health 10(2): 196 - 204.
- Fleming, T. and S. Merry (2012). "Youth Work Service Providers' Attitudes Towards Computerized CBT for Adolescents." Behavioural and Cognitive Psychotherapy FirstView: 1-15.
- Fleming, T., R. Dixon, et al. (2012). "A Pragmatic Randomized Controlled Trial of Computerized CBT (SPARX) for Symptoms of Depression among Adolescents Excluded from Mainstream Education." Behavioural and Cognitive Psychotherapy 40(05): 529-541.
An investigation into the design factors that would make SPARX applicable and acceptable to Māori Taitamariki - led by Dr Matt Shepherd.
It is imperative that a program like SPARX is relevant to Taitamariki because depression rates are high for Taitamariki. Preliminary findings from focus groups indicated that a majority of Taitamariki wanted characters within SPARX that they could identify with. This also included using Māori designs on costumes and buildings. Māori also stated that it would be important to have a resource that is applicable for them. Their suggestions included providing a booklet that would contain information about SPARX, and a SPARX version for whānau. The SPARX version for whānau contained information about how to support Taitamariki with depression and ways to support whānau members with similar issues.
Evaluation of Rainbow SPARX for depressive symptoms in sexual minority youth - led by Dr Mathijs Lucassen.
Sexual minority youth (lesbian, gay or bisexual youth or young people attracted to the same sex, both sexes and those not sure of their sexual attractions) are more likely to experience depression and to have difficulty accessing healthcare for an emotional worry. Mathijs developed a Rainbow Version of SPARX in collaboration with sexual minority youth and investigated the acceptability and feasibility of this computerised cognitive behavioural therapy intervention. He also collected preliminary data on the efficacy of Rainbow SPARX. Read a short summary of the findings here.
If you would like to contact Terry, Matt or Mathijs regarding their completed doctoral projects please do so.