Rainbow SPARX: a novel approach to addressing depression in sexual minority youth.

Lucassen, Mathijs F. G.; Merry, Sally N.; Hatcher, Simon and Frampton, Christopher M. A. (2015). Rainbow SPARX: a novel approach to addressing depression in sexual minority youth. Cognitive and Behavioral Practice, 22(2) pp. 203–216.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cbpra.2013.12.008


A seven-module computerized cognitive behavioral therapy (CCBT) program (Rainbow SPARX) was developed for adolescents with depressive symptoms who are also sexually attracted to the same sex, both sexes, or who are questioning their sexuality (i.e., sexual minority youth). In this paper a rationale for the use of CCBT amongst sexual minority youth with depression and a brief overview of the intervention are provided. Acceptability, feasibility, and preliminary data on Rainbow SPARX’s effectiveness, based on a pilot feasibility trial, are provided. Twenty-one sexual minority youth (male 52.4%) aged 13–19 years old with significant depressive symptomatology were enrolled in the study. Almost all the participants (n = 19, 90.5%) completed at least four out of seven modules of Rainbow SPARX and the program received favorable usefulness and likeability ratings. Depressive symptoms decreased significantly post-intervention (p < 0.0001, pre- to post-effect size d = 1.01) and this was maintained at 3-month follow-up. Rainbow SPARX is an acceptable, feasible, and promising intervention, which can be offered as a self-help resource that can be used in privacy and without stigma or can be used as an adjunct to face-to-face therapy.

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