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Title: Trait-focused internet-based prevention of common mental disorders in students
Author: Musiat, Peter
Awarding Body: King's College London (University of London)
Current Institution: King's College London (University of London)
Date of Award: 2012
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Background: Many university students experience symptoms of depression, anxiety disorders, substance use disorders or eating disorders. This thesis aimed to develop and evaluate a trait-focused internet-based prevention programme for these disorders in students. The thesis comprises of three studies. Study 1: In a cross-sectional study, 425 students were assessed on personality and mental health. A cluster analysis of indicators of mental health suggested two groups: one "high risk" group (20 per cent), who experienced symptoms of mental disorders; and the remaining students (80 per cent), who did not experience symptoms. Students at high risk showed higher trait anxiety, perfectionism and introversion/hopelessness. Study 2: To investigate challenges of student life, a mixed-methods study combined a web survey and focus groups. In the web survey, students most frequently identified social, practical and academic challenges. The focus groups confirmed these challenges and suggested that stigma and the belief that support mechanisms at university are only for students with severe problems would hinder support seeking. Study 3: Based on the findings from studies 1 and 2, a trait-focused internet-based cognitive-behavioural intervention was developed. This intervention included modules on perfectionism, low self-esteem, difficult emotions and anxiety. An active control intervention and a procedure for personalised feedback were developed. In a randomised controlled trial, the efficacy of the intervention compared to a control intervention was investigated in 1141 students, who were classified as high or low risk according to their personality. The trait-focused intervention reduced depression, anxiety and, to some extent, phobia-related avoidance and eating disorder symptoms in students at high risk. Conclusions: These findings suggest that: (a) students at high risk of developing mental disorders can be identified; (b) high risk students report higher levels of emotional and health difficulties; and (c) the mental health of these students can be improved with an intervention targeting personality risk factors.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available