The COPE On-line Program for the Prevention of Depression and Anxiety in College Freshmen: Methods and Baseline Correlates

Tuesday, 19 November 2013: 10:00 AM

Bernadette Mazurek Melnyk, PhD, RN, CPNP/PMHNP, FNAP, FAAN
Laura Szalacha, EdD
Megan E Amaya, PhD
Jacqueline Hoying, MS, RN, NEA-BC
Tiffany Taylor, RN, CPNP
Kristen Bowersox, BS, RN
College of Nursing, The Ohio State University, Columbus, OH

Purpose: The increasing prevalence of depression and anxiety disorders in college students calls for theory-based intervention programs that can be easily integrated into required course work. Therefore, the purpose of this paper is to describe the methods and baseline findings of a randomized controlled pilot trial with college students enrolled in a one credit required freshmen survey course in which an on-line cognitive-behavioral skills building program was integrated. Baseline data and correlates among the study variables will be described.

Methods: A randomized controlled pilot trial was conducted with 121 freshmen college students enrolled in a required one credit survey course their first semester of college. The COPE program is a self-paced, on-line 7-session cognitive behavioral skills building intervention, which was integrated into a one credit required freshen survey course. The attention control program was the required freshmen survey course without COPE. Main outcomes included depression and anxiety symptoms as measured with the Patient Heath Questionnaire-9 and the Generalized Anxiety Disorder-7 questionnaire.

Results. At baseline, 40.5% of the freshman reported elevated symptoms of anxiety and 31.4% reported elevated symptoms of depression. A significant negative correlation existed between cognitive beliefs about the ability to cope with stress/negative emotions and depression as well as anxiety.

Conclusion. Findings support cognitive theory as a framework for preventive interventions with college students. Cognitive-behavioral skills building interventions delivered routinely to college freshmen as a preventive intervention may lessen depressive and anxiety symptoms.