Effectiveness of a web- and mobile-guided psychological intervention for depressive symptoms in Turkey: Protocol for a randomized controlled trial

Burçin Ünlü Ince, Didem Gökçay, Heleen Riper, Pim Cuijpers

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Background: In Turkey, there are serious deficiencies in mental health care. Although depression is highly prevalent, only a small number of people seek professional help. Innovative solutions are needed to overcome this treatment gap. Web-based problem-solving therapy (PST) is an intervention proven to be effective in the treatment of depression, although little is known about its clinical effects in Turkey. Objective: This study aims to test the clinical effects of a Web and mobile app of an adapted PST for depressive symptoms among the general population in Turkey. Methods: Participants will be recruited through announcements in social media and the Middle East Technical University. Adults (18-55 years) with mild to moderate depressive symptoms (Beck Depression Inventory-II [BDI-II] score between 10-29) will be included in the study. Participants with a medium-to-high suicidal risk (according to the Mini-International Neuropsychiatric Interview) will be excluded. A 3-armed randomized controlled trial with a waiting control group will be utilized. A sample size of 444 participants will be randomized across 3 groups. The first experimental group will receive direct access to the Web version of the intervention; the second experimental group will receive direct access to the mobile app of the intervention as well as automated supportive short message service text messages based on PST. The control group consists of a wait-list and will gain access to the intervention 4 months after the baseline. The intervention is based on an existing PST for the Turkish population, Her Şey Kontrol Altinda (HŞKA), consisting of 5 modules each with a duration of 1 week and is guided by a clinical psychologist. The primary outcome is change in depressive symptoms measured by the BDI-II. Secondary outcomes include symptoms of anxiety, stress, worry, self-efficacy, and quality of life. Furthermore, satisfaction with, usability and acceptability of the intervention are important features that will be evaluated. All outcomes will take place online through self-assessment at posttest (6-8 weeks after baseline) and at follow-up (4 months after baseline). Results: We will recruit a total of 444 participants with mild to moderate depressive symptoms from March 2018 to February 2019 or until the recruitment is complete. We expect the final trial results to be available by the end of May 2019. This trial is funded by the Scientific and Technological Research Council of Turkey (National Postdoctoral Research Fellowship Programme 2016/1). Conclusions: Results from this study will reveal more information about the clinical effects of HŞKA as well as its applicability in a Turkish setting through the Web and mobile platforms. On the basis of the results, a guided Web- and mobile-based PST intervention might become an appropriate alternative for treating mild to moderate depressive symptoms.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere13239
JournalJournal of medical Internet research
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2019


  • Depression
  • Depressive symptoms
  • Mobile app
  • Psychotherapy
  • Randomized controlled trial
  • Telemedicine

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