Currently accepted at: JMIR Mental Health
Date Submitted: Jun 16, 2017
Date Accepted: Nov 16, 2017
(closed for review but you can still tweet)
Web-Based Decision Aid to Assist Help-Seeking Choices for Young People Who Self-Harm: Outcomes From a Randomized Controlled Feasibility Trial
Adolescents who self-harm are often unsure how or where to get help. We developed a Web-based personalized decision aid (DA) designed to support young people in decision making about seeking help for their self-harm.
The aim of this study was to evaluate the feasibility and acceptability of the DA intervention and the randomized controlled trial (RCT) in a school setting.
We conducted a two-group, single blind, randomized controlled feasibility trial in a school setting. Participants aged 12 to 18 years who reported self-harm in the past 12 months were randomized to either a Web-based DA or to general information about mood and feelings. Feasibility of recruitment, randomization, and follow-up rates were assessed, as was acceptability of the intervention and study procedures. Descriptive data were collected on outcome measures examining decision making and help-seeking behavior. Qualitative interviews were conducted with young people, parents or carers, and staff and subjected to thematic analysis to explore their views of the DA and study processes.
Parental consent was a significant barrier to young people participating in the trial, with only 17.87% (208/1164) of parents or guardians who were contacted for consent responding to study invitations. Where parental consent was obtained, we were able to recruit 81.7% (170/208) of young people into the study. Of those young people screened, 13.5% (23/170) had self-harmed in the past year. Ten participants were randomized to receiving the DA, and 13 were randomized to the control group. Four-week follow-up assessments were completed with all participants. The DA had good acceptability, but qualitative interviews suggested that a DA that addressed broader mental health problems such as depression, anxiety, and self-harm may be more beneficial.
A broad-based mental health DA addressing a wide range of psychosocial problems may be useful for young people. The requirement for parental consent is a key barrier to intervention research on self-harm in the school setting. Adaptations to the research design and the intervention are needed before generalizable research about DAs can be successfully conducted in a school setting. Trial Registration: International Standard Randomized Controlled Trial registry: ISRCTN11230559; http://www.isrctn.com/ISRCTN11230559 (Archived by WebCite at http://www.webcitation.org/6wqErsYWG)
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