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Protocol for an app-based affective control training for adolescents: proof-of-principle double-blind randomized controlled trial

Schweizer, S; Leung, JT; Kievit, R; Speekenbrink, M; Trender, W; Hampshire, A; Blakemore, S-J; (2019) Protocol for an app-based affective control training for adolescents: proof-of-principle double-blind randomized controlled trial. Wellcome Open Research , 4 , Article 91. 10.12688/wellcomeopenres.15229.1. Green open access

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Abstract

Background: 75% of all mental health problems have their onset before the end of adolescence. Therefore, adolescence may be a particularly sensitive time period for preventing mental health problems. Affective control, the capacity to engage with goal relevant and inhibit distracting information in affective contexts, has been proposed as a potential target for prevention. In this study, we will explore the impact of improving adolescents' affective control capacity on their mental health. Methods: The proof-of-principle double-blind randomized controlled trial will compare the effectiveness of an app-based affective control training (AC-Training) to a placebo training (P-Training) app. In total, 200 (~50% females) adolescents (11-19 years) will train for 14 days on their training app. The AC-Training will include three different n-back tasks: visuospatial, auditory and dual (i.e., including both modalities). These tasks require participants to flexibly engage and disengage with affective and neutral stimuli (i.e., faces and words). The P-Training will present participants with a perceptual matching task. The three versions of the P-Training tasks vary in the stimuli included (i.e., shapes, words and faces). The two training groups will be compared on gains in affective control, mental health, emotion regulation and self-regulation, immediately after training, one month and one year after training. Discussion: If, as predicted, the proposed study finds that AC-Training successfully improves affective control in adolescents, there would be significant potential benefits to adolescent mental health. As a free app, the training would also be scalable and easy to disseminate across a wide range of settings. Trial registration: The trial was registered on December 10th 2018 with the International Standard Randomised Controlled Trial Number (Registration number: ISRCTN17213032).

Type: Article
Title: Protocol for an app-based affective control training for adolescents: proof-of-principle double-blind randomized controlled trial
Location: England
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.12688/wellcomeopenres.15229.1
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.12688/wellcomeopenres.15229.1
Language: English
Additional information: This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article’s Creative Commons license, unless indicated otherwise in the credit line; if the material is not included under the Creative Commons license, users will need to obtain permission from the license holder to reproduce the material. To view a copy of this license, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/
Keywords: Adolescence, Affective control, App-based training, Emotion regulation, Mental health
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Div of Psychology and Lang Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Div of Psychology and Lang Sciences > Experimental Psychology
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Div of Psychology and Lang Sciences > Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10077907
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