Gender Differences in Depression Literacy and Stigma After a Randomized Controlled Evaluation of a Universal Depression Education Program

Lisa Townsend, Rashelle Musci, Elizabeth Stuart, Kathryn Heley, Mary Beth Beaudry, Barbara Schweizer, Anne Ruble, Karen Swartz, Holly Wilcox

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Purpose: Depression is a debilitating illness with frequent onset during adolescence. Depression affects women more often than men; men are more likely to complete suicide and less likely to seek treatment. The Adolescent Depression Awareness Program (ADAP) is a school-based depression intervention that educates adolescents about depression symptoms and addresses accompanying stigma. The study aims examined gender differences in the ADAP's impact on depression literacy and stigma. Methods: Data came from a randomized trial (2012–2015). Six thousand six hundred seventy-nine students from 54 schools in several states were matched into pairs and randomized to the intervention or wait-list control. Teachers delivered the ADAP as part of the health curriculum. Depression literacy and stigma outcomes were measured before intervention, 6 weeks later, and at 4 months. Multilevel models evaluated whether gender moderated the effect of ADAP on depression literacy and stigma. Results: At 4 months, there was a main effect of the ADAP on depression literacy (odds ratio [OR] = 3.3, p = .001) with intervention students achieving depression literacy at higher rates than controls. Gender exhibited a main effect, with women showing greater rates of depression literacy than men (OR = 1.51, p = .001). There was no significant intervention × gender interaction. The ADAP did not exhibit a significant main effect on stigma. There was a main effect for gender, with women demonstrating less stigma than men (OR = .65, p = .001). There was no significant interaction between the intervention and gender on stigma. Conclusions: The ADAP demonstrates effectiveness for increasing rates of depression literacy among high school students. In this study, gender was not associated with ADAP's effectiveness.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)472-477
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Adolescent Health
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2019


  • Adolescence
  • Depression
  • School-based interventions
  • Stigma
  • Universal depression education

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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