A Randomized Trial of the Positive Thoughts and Action Program for Depression Among Early Adolescents

Carolyn A. McCarty, Heather D. Violette, Mylien T. Duong, Rick A. Cruz, Elizabeth McCauley

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41 Scopus citations


This study was conducted to compare the outcomes of a group-based cognitive-behavioral preventive intervention (Positive Thoughts and Actions [PTA]) tailored to youth in middle school with a brief, individually administered supportive intervention (Individual Support Program [ISP]). A randomized, controlled trial was conducted with 120 early adolescents (72 girls, 48 boys; age = 11-15 years) who had elevated depressive symptoms and were selected from a school-based population. Measures of internalizing problems, externalizing problems, personal adjustment, school problems, and interpersonal relations were obtained from parents, youth, and/or teachers at preintervention (Time 1) and postintervention (Time 2, 5-7 months after preintervention). General linear model repeated measures analyses yielded a significant Group × Time interaction on youth-reported, but not parent-reported, depressive symptoms and internalizing symptoms. Youth in the PTA group showed greater decreases following intervention compared to youth who received ISP, yielding effect sizes (Cohen's d) of 0.36 for depressive symptoms, 95% CI [-.02,.73], and 0.44, 95% CI [.05,.82], for internalizing symptoms. PTA youth also showed improvements in their personal adjustment (sense of inadequacy, self-esteem), and parent-reported social skills, but no differences emerged between groups for externalizing symptoms, school problems, or interpersonal relationships. Cognitive-behavioral preventive interventions in which youth engage in personal goal-setting and practice social-emotional skills, such as PTA, may be beneficial for the reduction of depressive symptoms over and above general support and empathy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)554-563
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 2013
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Clinical Psychology


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