Personalized Depression Prevention: A Randomized Controlled Trial to Optimize Effects Through Risk-Informed Personalization

Jami F. Young, Jason D. Jones, Robert Gallop, Jessica S. Benas, Christie M. Schueler, Judy Garber, Benjamin L. Hankin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective: To evaluate whether evidence-based depression prevention programs can be optimized by matching youths to interventions that address their psychosocial vulnerabilities. Method: This randomized controlled trial included 204 adolescents (mean [SD] age = 14.26 [1.65] years; 56.4% female). Youths were categorized as high or low on cognitive and interpersonal risks for depression and randomly assigned to Coping With Stress (CWS), a cognitive-behavioral program, or Interpersonal Psychotherapy–Adolescent Skills Training (IPT-AST), an interpersonal program. Some participants received a match between risk and prevention (eg, high cognitive–low interpersonal risk teen in CWS, low cognitive–high interpersonal risk teen in IPT-AST), others received a mismatch (eg, low cognitive-high interpersonal risk teen in CWS). Outcomes were depression diagnoses and symptoms through 18 months postintervention (21 months total). Results: Matched adolescents showed significantly greater decreases in depressive symptoms than mismatched adolescents from postintervention through 18-month follow-up and across the entire 21-month study period (effect size [d] = 0.44, 95% CI = 0.02, 0.86). There was no significant difference in rates of depressive disorders among matched adolescents compared with mismatched adolescents (12.0% versus 18.3%, t 193 = .78, p = .44). Conclusion: This study illustrates one approach to personalizing depression prevention as a form of precision mental health. Findings suggest that risk-informed personalization may enhance effects beyond a one-size-fits-all approach. Clinical trial registration information: Bending Adolescent Depression Trajectories Through Personalized Prevention;; NCT01948167.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1116-1126.e1
JournalJournal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2021


  • depression
  • personalization
  • precision
  • prevention

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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