Frontiers in Psychology
School of Medical and Health Sciences
Australian Research Council
Mental Health Division of the Western Australian Department of Health
The efficacy of an enhanced version of the Aussie Optimism Program (AOP) was investigated in a cluster randomized controlled trial. Grade 6 students aged 10–11 years of age (N = 2288) from 63 government primary schools in Perth, Western Australia, participated in the pre, post, and follow-up study. Schools were randomly assigned to one of three conditions: Aussie Optimism with teacher training, Aussie Optimism with teacher training plus coaching, or a usual care condition that received the regular Western Australian Health Education Curriculum. Students in the Aussie Optimism conditions received 20, 1-h lessons relating to social and interpersonal skills and optimistic thinking skills over the last 2 years of primary school. Parents in the active conditions received a parent information booklet each year, plus a self-directed program in Grade 7. Students and parents completed the Extended Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire. Students who scored in the clinical range on the Emotional Symptoms Scale were given The Diagnostic Interview for Children and Adolescents IV, to assess suicidal ideation and behavior, and depressive and anxiety disorders. Results indicated that Aussie Optimism with teacher training plus coaching was associated with the best outcomes: a significant increase in student-reported pro-social behavior from pre-test to post-test 1 (maintained at post-test 2) and significantly lower incidence rates from suicidal ideation at post-test 2 and follow-up. No significant intervention effects on anxiety and depressive disorders, and total difficulties were reported. These findings suggest that the AOP with teacher training along with coaching may have the potential to positively impact on suicidality and pro-social behavior in the pre-adolescent years.
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