Background: The literature shows a high prevalence of depression and anxiety in young people. The university represents a change in the lives of students, and is considered a stress factor. Therefore, it is particularly relevant to develop interventions specifically addressed to students and foster supportive environments and resilient communities. As students are "digital natives", online interventions offer several potential advantages in doing this. This study aims to develop and evaluate the efficacy of an Internet-based intervention (CORE: Cultivating our Resilience), based on the Ryff model of well-being, to promote resilience and coping skills, decrease symptoms of depression and anxiety, and increase overall wellbeing in young people confronting a crucial life event (the university). This paper summarizes the study protocol.
Method: The design of the planned study is a randomized controlled trial. A minimum of 464 participants will be randomly assigned to two conditions: 1) an unguided Internet-based intervention to enhance resilience (N = 232); 2) a care-as-usual condition (CAU) (N = 232). The primary outcome will be the Connor-Davidson resilience scale. Secondary outcomes will - among others - include other relevant clinical measures, such as anxiety and depressive symptoms, quality of life, and social support. Outcomes will be assessed 4 and 8 weeks, and 6 and 12-months follow-ups. Intention-to-treat and per-protocol analyses will be performed.
Discussion: The results of this study will contribute to the growing research on Internet-delivered interventions. The expected results may have a major impact on the prevention of mental disorders and possible negative consequences in at-risk populations, such as college students.