Journal of Genetic Counseling

, Volume 26, Issue 2, pp 312–321 | Cite as

A Psycho-Educational Intervention for People with a Family History of Depression: Pilot Results

  • Bettina Meiser
  • Michelle Peate
  • Charlene Levitan
  • Philip B Mitchell
  • Lyndal Trevena
  • Kristine Barlow-Stewart
  • Timothy Dobbins
  • Helen Christensen
  • Kerry A Sherman
  • Kate Dunlop
  • Peter R Schofield
Original Research


We developed and pilot-tested the first online psycho-educational intervention that specifically targets people with a family history of depression (‘LINKS’). LINKS provides genetic risk information and evidence-rated information on preventive strategies for depression and incorporates a risk assessment tool and several videos using professional actors. LINKS was pilot-tested in the general practitioner (GP) setting. The patient sample included people with a family history of at least one first-degree relative (FDR) with major depressive disorder (MDD) or bipolar disorder (BD). Patients attending participating GP practices were invited to enroll in the study by letter from their GP. Patients who self-identified as having at least one first-degree relative (FDR) with MDD or BD were eligible. Patients completed questionnaires, pre-post viewing LINKS, with measures assessing satisfaction, relevance, emotional impact and perceived improvement of understanding. Six GP practices participated, and 24 patients completed both questionnaires. Of these, all reported that they were satisfied or very satisfied with LINKS, and 74 % reported that LINKS met their expectations, and 21 % that it exceeded their expectations. LINKS was judged highly acceptable by this sample of GP attendees, and results indicate that an assessment of its effectiveness in a larger controlled trial is warranted.


Family history Major depressive disorder Bipolar disorder Online intervention Psycho-education Prevention 



We would like to thank the participants in this study. We also thank Raghib Ahmad for assistance with manuscript submission. We are very grateful to Associate Professor Jehannine Austin and Dr. Holly Peay for reviewing the content of the website and providing valuable feedback and suggestions for improvements. This study was funded by an Australian Research Council Linkage Grant (LP120200075), with additional funding from NSW Health and the Centre for Genetics Education. Bettina Meiser is supported by a National Health and Medical Research Council of Australia (NHMRC) Senior Research Fellowship (1078523). Philip Mitchell and Peter Schofield are supported by an NHMRC Program Grant (1037196). Helen Christensen is supported by a John Cade Fellowship (1056964), and Michelle Peate by a National Breast Cancer Foundation Early Career Fellowship (ECF-15-005).

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Informed Consent

All procedures followed were in accordance with the ethical standards of the responsible committee on human experimentation (institutional and national) and with the Helsinki Declaration of 1975, as revised in 2000. Informed consent was obtained from all patients for being included in the study.

Animal Studies

No animal studies were carried out by the authors for this article.

Conflict of Interest

None of the authors have a conflict of interest to declare.


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Copyright information

© National Society of Genetic Counselors, Inc. 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Bettina Meiser
    • 1
  • Michelle Peate
    • 1
    • 2
  • Charlene Levitan
    • 1
  • Philip B Mitchell
    • 3
  • Lyndal Trevena
    • 4
  • Kristine Barlow-Stewart
    • 5
  • Timothy Dobbins
    • 6
  • Helen Christensen
    • 7
  • Kerry A Sherman
    • 8
  • Kate Dunlop
    • 9
  • Peter R Schofield
    • 10
    • 11
  1. 1.Psychosocial Research Group, Prince of Wales Clinical SchoolUNSWSydneyAustralia
  2. 2.Department of Obstetrics and Oncology, Royal Women’s HospitalUniversity of MelbourneVictoriaAustralia
  3. 3.School of PsychiatryUNSWSydneyAustralia
  4. 4.School of Public Health and Community MedicineUniversity of SydneySydneyAustralia
  5. 5.Sydney Medical School – NorthernUniversity of SydneySydneyAustralia
  6. 6.National Drug and Alcohol Research CentreUNSWSydneyAustralia
  7. 7.Black Dog InstitutePrince of Wales HospitalSydneyAustralia
  8. 8.Centre for Emotional Health, Department of PsychologyMacquarie UniversitySydneyAustralia
  9. 9.Centre for Genetics Education, NSW HealthRoyal North Shore HospitalSydneyAustralia
  10. 10.Neuroscience Research AustraliaSydneyAustralia
  11. 11.School of Medical SciencesUNSWSydneyAustralia

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