Randomized Controlled Trial of a culturally-adapted computerized Cognitive Behavior Therapy (cCBT) program to treat depressive symptoms, syndromes, and disorders among rural Montanans

Montana ranks high among states on mental health disorder prevalence and low on access to mental health care.  It has the highest suicide rate in the nation.  Of Montana’s 56 counties, 10 are classified as rural and 45 as frontier, accentuating distance and provider availability challenges in accessing care.  New treatment delivery modalities are needed to complement, supplement and augment scarce mental health care.  With increased Internet accessibility, computer-administered Cognitive Behavior Therapy (cCBT) programs have emerged as viable approaches to effective treatment of depression.  Thrive, a sophisticated interactive digital cCBT program using a largely video format platform intended to enhance engagement, has been shown to significantly reduce depressive symptoms among adults with varying severity of depressive symptomatology in uncontrolled trials in urban settings.  The goal of this project is to conduct a randomized controlled trial (RCT) of Thrive to determine its effectiveness in reducing depressive symptom severity among Montanans, many of whom have few or no other options for mental health treatment.

This project is led by Dr. Mark Schure, Assistant Professor of Community Health (MSU). Co-investigators include Dr. Sandra Bailey, Professor of Family and Human Development, MSU Extension; Dr. Matt Byerly, Director of MSU’s Center for Mental Health Research and Recovery and Professor, Cell Biology and Neuroscience, MSU; and,  Dr. John Greist, Professor of Psychiatry-Emeritus at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and Affiliate Professor, Cell Biology and Neuroscience, MSU.

During the summer of 2017, project team members collaborated with the MSU film department to develop and produce learning videos specific to rural Montanans’ lifestyles and experiences that are now included as part of a new culturally-adapted version of the Thrive program.

Study promotion and recruitment for the RCT started in September 2017 and will continue for several months. Interested persons can easily find out more information about the project, quickly go through a screening to determine eligibility for participating in the study, and sign up for the study if deemed eligible at thriveformontana.com webpage. Eligibility criteria for study participation include:

  • Having a Montana residency
  • Aged 18 or older
  • Having regular access to broadband internet
  • Having depressive symptoms that are at least mild

This project is expected to have an immediate positive impact on Montanans with depressive symptoms, syndromes, and disorders. The long-term goal of this project is to provide a culturally acceptable, accessible, engaging, and confidential evidence-based tool to treat depressive symptoms, syndromes and disorders and improve the health and quality of life for Montanans and other rural populations.

For further information, persons can contact:

Mark Schure at (406) 994-3248 (mark.schure@montana.edu) or Meredith Howard (Study Coordinator) at 406-994-3247 (msuthrive@montana.edu).