The COPE On-line Program for the Prevention of Depression and Anxiety in College Freshmen: Post-intervention Findings

Tuesday, 19 November 2013: 10:20 AM

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

Purpose: The rise of depression and anxiety disorders in college students necessitates the development and testing of theory-based intervention programs. Therefore, the purpose of this paper is to describe the effects of an on-line cognitive behavioral skills building intervention program entitled COPE (Creating Opportunities for Personal Empowerment) on depression and anxiety in 121 freshman college students.

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 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.  Those students with moderate to severe anxiety in the COPE group reported significantly better coping mechanisms post-intervention. In addition, those students with none to mild depressive symptoms in the treatment group reported significantly better coping mechanisms post-intervention. Further, the greater number of on-line sessions that the freshmen in the COPE group completed, the less depression and anxiety symptoms reported.

Conclusion. Cognitive-behavioral skills building interventions delivered routinely to college freshmen as a preventive intervention may enhance coping and lessen depressive and anxiety symptoms.