This meta-analysis investigated the effectiveness of universal mental health prevention programs for higher education students on a range of adjustment outcomes. A systematic literature search identified 103 controlled published and unpublished interventions involving college, graduate, or professional students. As hypothesized, skill-training programs that included a supervised practice component were significantly more effective overall (mean effect size = 0.45, confidence interval (CI) = 0.39 to 0.52) compared to skill-training programs without supervised practice (0.11, CI = −0.01 to 0.22) and psychoeducational (information-only) programs (0.13, CI = 0.06 to 0.21). When comparisons on specific outcomes were possible, skill-training programs including supervised practice were significantly more effective than the other two groups of programs in reducing symptoms of depression, anxiety, stress, and general psychological distress, and in improving social-emotional skills, self-perceptions, and academic behaviors and performance. The magnitude of effects achieved in several outcome areas is comparable to or higher than that reported in other reviews of universal programs, suggesting that skill-training programs for higher education students that incorporate supervised practice now join the ranks of other effective preventive mental health interventions. This review offers several recommendations to improve the experimental rigor of future research.
Prevention Science – Springer Journals
Published: Mar 7, 2015
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