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Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Social connections: Internet prevention of loneliness and depression in first year university students
by Peters, Hannah Osier, Psy.D., Palo Alto University, 2013, 204; 3591864
Abstract (Summary)

Developing meaningful interpersonal relationships is foundational for psychological health. During the transition to college, first year students are faced with developmental tasks such as forming friendships, and living with peers. Loneliness and depression are common among those who experience lack of social support (Aneshensel & Stone, 1982; Medora & Woodward, 1986). Given that emerging adults (ages 18-24) have the highest incidence and cumulative rates of depression of any age group (R. C. Kessler et al., 2010; R. C. Kessler et al., 1994; G. L. Klerman & Weissman, 1989) and one in ten college students has considered suicide (Jed Foundation2010), prevention efforts are crucial for helping first year university students manage the challenges of transitioning to college. Few interventions target interpersonal skills and development during this transition, and literature searches retrieved no previous internet-based interventions focused on interpersonal functioning for this population.

The current study examines the feasibility and efficacy of an on-line psychoeducational prevention program, SocialConnections, which integrates interpersonal skills from Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Dialectical Behavior therapy, and Interpersonal Therapy to target developmentally appropriate interpersonal challenges for first semester university students. Students in two freshman dormitories at a large private university were offered SocialConnections (SC) and all students in a third freshmen dormitory were offered an on-line sleep program (Refresh) as a control. Students were assessed at baseline and 10 weeks later at post-assessment on measures of depression, loneliness, empathy, and social skills. Change scores were computed from pre to post test and independent samples t-tests were conducted on all measures. Findings revealed no differences between SC and the control program on the measures of interest, however SC did demonstrate a moderate effect size for those students who were at high risk for depression at baseline (CES-D scores ≥ 22). Additionally, SC was well received by students. Thirty six percent of students signed up for SC compared to 24% of the control. Completion rates were high for both programs. Student enjoyment ratings ranged from 3-4 out of 5 stars for each SC session, with "roommates" and "breakups" the highest rated (4/5 stars).

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Taylor, Craig Barr
Commitee: Haas, Amie
School: Palo Alto University
Department: Psychology
School Location: United States -- California
Source: DAI-B 74/12(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Social psychology, Psychology, Clinical psychology
Keywords: Depression, Internet prevention, Internet-based, Interpersonal stress, Loneliness, Prevention
Publication Number: 3591864
ISBN: 978-1-303-32586-1
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