Volume 5, Article 12
Mental health promotion among university students using a mobile health intervention: Longitudinal findings from a randomized controlled trial
Marcus Bendtsen and Kristin Thomas
Citation: Bendtsen, M., & Thomas K. (2021). ‘Mental health promotion among university students using a mobile health intervention: Longitudinal findings from a randomized controlled trial’, European Journal of Applied Positive Psychology, 5, 12, 1-18. https://www.nationalwellbeingservice.org/volumes/volume-5-2021/volume-5-article-12/
Processing dates: Submitted 11th January 2021; Re-submitted 27th May 2021; Accepted 27th May 2021; Published 2nd September 2021
Open Access. Copyright: © 2021. Kristin Thomas and Marcus Bendtsen. Published in European Journal of Applied Positive Psychology. Published by National Wellbeing Services Ltd. This article is licensed under a CC BY 4.0 license. Full terms of licence: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/
Background: Research shows that positive psychology interventions have a small to medium effect on wellbeing, depression, anxiety, and stress. However, few studies have investigated long-term mental health outcomes.
Methods: This paper reports on the 6- and 12-month effects of a mobile phone based positive psychology intervention on wellbeing among university students in Sweden. A 2-arm, single blind (researchers), parallel groups, randomized controlled trial was employed.
Results: In total 654 individuals (25 years median age, 78% female) were randomized to the intervention (n=348) or control group (n=306). Primary outcome was positive mental health (Mental Health Continuum-Short Form). Secondary outcomes were depression and anxiety symptomatology (Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale). A lasting effect on wellbeing was observed. An immediate positive effect was observed on anxiety and depression outcomes which waned over time.
Discussion and conclusions: The findings suggest that mobile phone-based interventions could be an important tool in a wider strategy for mental health promotion. Future research could improve on the effects observed in this study by finding ways to optimise person-activity fit and tailor the intervention content.
Keywords: mental health promotion; positive psychology intervention; mobile health intervention; university students; randomized controlled trial
Marcus Bendtsen is with the Department of Health, Medicine and Caring Sciences, Linköping University, Linköping, Sweden
Kristin Thomas is with the Department of Health, Medicine and Caring Sciences, Linköping University, Linköping, Sweden