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Journal of Medical Internet Research

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111712 Health Promotion| 111714 Mental Health

Avondale Research Centre

Lifestyle and Health Research Centre

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Background: The rapid increase in mental health disorders has prompted a call for greater focus on mental health promotion and primary prevention. Web- and mobile app–based interventions present a scalable opportunity. Little is known about the influence of human support on the outcomes of these interventions.

Objective: This study aimed to compare the influence of 3 modes of human support on the outcomes (ie, mental health, vitality, depression, anxiety, stress, life satisfaction, and flourishing) of a 10-week, Web- and mobile app–based, lifestyle-focused mental health promotion intervention among a healthy adult cohort.

Methods: Participants were recruited voluntarily using a combination of online and offline advertising. They were randomized, unblinded into 3 groups differentiated by human support mode: Group 1 (n=201): standard—fully automated emails (S); Group 2 (n=202): standard plus personalized SMS (S+pSMS); and Group 3 (n=202): standard plus weekly videoconferencing support (S+VCS), hosted by 1 trained facilitator. Participants accessed the intervention, including the questionnaire, on a Web-based learning management system or through a mobile app. The questionnaire, administered at pre- and postintervention, contained self-reported measures of mental well-being, including the “mental health” and “vitality” subscales from the Short Form Health Survey-36, Depression Anxiety and Stress Scale-21, Diener Satisfaction With Life Scale (SWLS), and Diener Flourishing Scale.

Results: Of 605 potential participants, 458 (S: n=157, S+pSMS: n=163, and S+VCS: n=138) entered the study by completing registration and the preintervention questionnaire. At post intervention, 320 out of 458 participants (69.9%; S: n=103, S+pSMS: n=114, and S+VCS: n=103) completed the questionnaire. Significant within-group improvements were recorded from pre- to postintervention in all groups and in every outcome measure (P≤.001). No significant between-group differences were observed for outcomes in any measure: mental health (P=.77), vitality (P=.65), depression (P=.93), anxiety (P=.25), stress (P.57), SWLS (P=.65), and Flourishing Scale (P=.99). Adherence was not significantly different between groups for mean videos watched (P=.42) and practical activity engagement (P=.71). Participation in videoconference support sessions (VCSSs) was low; 37 out of 103 (35.9%) participants did not attend any VCSSs, and only 19 out of 103 (18.4%) attended 7 or more out of 10 sessions. Stratification within the S+VCS group revealed that those who attended 7 or more VCSSs experienced significantly greater improvements in the domains of mental health (P=.006; d=0.71), vitality (P=.005; d=0.73), depression (P=.04; d=0.54), and life satisfaction (P=.046; d=0.50) compared with participants who attended less than 7.

Conclusions: A Web- and mobile app–based mental health promotion intervention enhanced domains of mental well-being among a healthy cohort, irrespective of human support. Low attendance at VCSSs hindered the ability to make meaningful between-group comparisons. Supplementing the intervention with VCSSs might improve outcomes when attendance is optimized.

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06 Health

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Used by permission: the authors.

©Melanie Elise Renfrew, Darren Peter Morton, Jason Kyle Morton, Jason Scott Hinze, Peter James Beamish, Geraldine Przybylko, Bevan Adrian Craig. Originally published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research (http://www.jmir.org2020/1/e15592), 06.01.2020.

This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work, first published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research, is properly cited.