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Weaver A, Landry C, Zhang A, McQuown L, Hahn J, Harrington M, Tucker KM, Holzworth J, Buys T, Smith FN, Grogan-Kaylor A, Pfeiffer PN, Kilbourne AM, Himle JA. Study protocol: A randomized controlled trial of Raising Our Spirits Together, an entertaining, group-based technology-assisted cognitive behavioral therapy for depression, tailored for rural adults and delivery by clergy. Contemporary clinical trials communications. 2022 Oct 1; 29:100952.
This paper presents a methodological description of a randomized controlled trial (RCT) testing the effect of Raising Our Spirits Together (ROST), a technology-assisted cognitive behavioral therapy (T-CBT) for depression, tailored for the rural context and for delivery by clergy, compared to an enhanced control condition. Depression is among the most common mental health conditions; yet the majority of adults with depression do not receive needed treatment due to limited access to mental health professionals, treatment-associated costs, distance to care, and stigma. These barriers are particularly salient in rural areas of the United States. T-CBT with human support is an accessible and effective treatment for depression; however, currently available T-CBTs have poor completion rates due to the lack of tailoring and other features to support engagement. ROST is a T-CBT specifically tailored for the rural setting and delivery by clergy, who are preferred, informal providers. ROST also presents core CBT content in a simple, jargon-free manner that supports multiple learning preferences. ROST is delivered virtually in a small group format across 8 weekly sessions via videoconferencing software consistent with other clergy-based programs, such as Bible studies or self-help groups. In this study, adults with depressive symptoms recruited from two rural Michigan counties will be randomized to receive ROST versus an enhanced control condition (N = 84). Depressive symptoms post-treatment and at 3 months follow-up according to the Patient Health Questionnaire (PHQ-9) will be the primary outcome. Findings will determine whether ROST is effective for improving depression symptoms in underserved, under resourced rural communities.