The Depression-Alcohol (DEAL) Project is a brief web-based intervention for young people with co-occurring depressive symptoms and problematic alcohol use.
The DEAL Project consists of 4 1-hour modules based on the principles of Cognitive Behavior Therapy. Module content includes psychoeducation, goal setting, monitoring of mood, activity and alcohol use, behavioral activation, decisional balance, activity scheduling, cognitive restructuring, mindfulness, drink reduction and refusal skills, and relapse planning and management. Users receive a homework assignment after completing a module. Each module begins by reviewing the homework assignment from the previous module.
Link to research website here.
Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT)
Alcohol use (quantity and frequency)
Young Adults (18 to 25 years)
An online intervention for co-occurring depression and problematic alcohol use in young people: Primary outcomes from a randomized controlled trial
Deady M, Mills K, Teesson M, Kay-Lambkin F. JMIR. 2016. 18(3): e71. doi: 10.2196/jmir.5178
Summary: Researchers recruited young adults aged 18-25 years (n = 104) with moderate depressive symptoms and hazardous drinking to examine the efficacy of The DEAL Project in reducing depression severity and quantity and frequency of alcohol consumption. Recruitment occurred through study flyers, radio and newspaper stories, and Facebook and Google advertisements. Researchers randomized participants to receive The DEAL Project intervention (n = 60) or a web-based attention-control, HealthWatch (n = 44) for a 4-week period. The attention-control consisted of 4 modules of text information and surveys (environmental health, physical and mental activity, nutrition, and relationships). All participants completed online assessments of depression symptom severity and alcohol use quantity (drinks per week) and frequency (drinking days per week) at baseline, 5 weeks (post-intervention), and 3- and 6-months post-intervention. DEAL participants demonstrated statistically significant post-intervention (5 weeks) reductions in depression severity and quantity and frequency of alcohol use relative to the attention-control. Compared with the attention-control, DEAL participants reported a significant 4.51-point greater reduction in depression severity scores, a significant 100% greater reduction in drinks per week, and a significant 79% greater reduction in drinking days per week. Intervention group reductions were maintained at 3- and 6-months post-intervention, but there were no statistically significant between-group differences in depression severity or quantity and frequency of alcohol use at 3- and 6-months post-intervention due to statistically nonsignificant shifts in both DEAL and attention-control group outcomes. At 3 months, the attention-control experienced a statistically significant reduction in depression symptoms that persisted to 6-months post-intervention. There were no statistically significant reductions in quantity or frequency of alcohol use among the attention-control at 3- or 6-months post-intervention.
Take Away: The DEAL Project produced significant post-intervention reductions in depression severity and quantity and frequency of alcohol use compared with the attention-control. Longer-term outcomes of The DEAL Project were less clear.