Project Summary

This research project is in progress. PCORI will post the research findings on this page within 90 days after the results are final.

What is the research about?

Depression is a health problem that causes people to feel sad, hopeless, or empty. Each year, 20 percent of teens are diagnosed with depression. Without treatment, depression often affects teens’ relationships with friends and family; makes it hard to do well in school; and may cause teens to try drugs, cutting, or suicide. But only 25 percent of teens diagnosed with depression get treatment, often because of the stigma of depression.

In this study, the research team is comparing two depression prevention programs for teens:

  • Competent Adulthood Transition with Cognitive Humanistic and Interpersonal Training, or CATCH-IT, a self-guided online program
  • Teens Achieving Mastery Over Stress, or TEAMS, a face-to-face group program with other teens

CATCH-IT and TEAMS are both based on a depression prevention program called Coping with Depression-Adolescent. The research team wants to compare how well these programs help teens deal with stress and negative moods and cope with tough situations.

Who can this research help?

Primary care clinicians, mental health professionals, and school-based counselors can use these findings when considering ways to treat teens with depressive symptoms.

What is the research team doing?

The research team is enrolling more than 564 teens ages 13–18 who are receiving care in urban and suburban Chicago and western Illinois, and Louisville, Kentucky. These areas include inner-city, suburban, and rural communities of African-American, Latino, Arab, and white teens as well as teens who identify as LGBTQ. During primary care visits or school screenings, the team is asking teens to fill out a survey about their depression symptoms. The team is inviting teens who have symptoms of depression to join the study. After the teen and parent or guardian consent to take part in the study, they are assigned to either CATCH-IT or TEAMS, depending on the program offered at their primary care clinic or school.

Over the course of 18 months, the research team is looking at changes in the teens’ symptoms of depression and other mental health conditions. They are also asking teens about stress, relationships, and social interactions.

Teens, parents, clinicians, and community groups are helping to plan and carry out the study.

Research methods at a glance

Design Elements Description
Design Randomized controlled trial
Population 564 teens with minor symptoms of depression

Primary: time required for implementation, cultural acceptability, and implementation cost of each program; prevention of depressive episodes; improvement in symptoms, functioning, resiliency, and relationships

Secondary: reduction in substance use, anxiety disorder, and conduct disorder

Timeframe Timeframe Length of follow-up for collecting data on primary outcomes. View Glossary 18-month follow-up for primary outcomes

More to Explore...

Media Mentions

Comics That Helped Prevent Teen Depression Before Pandemic Now Targeting Increased Risks Because of COVID-19
Rockett, Chicago Tribune, August 27, 2020
Find out more about the "Path 2 Purpose" public health campaign, which seeks to provide teens experiencing anxiety and depression with healthcare strategies during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Comics Aren’t Just for Fun — They Can Help Prevent Teen Depression Too
Rockett, Chicago Tribune, February 27, 2020
Read more about the Catch-It curriculum, developed through this study to equip teens with a range of coping mechanisms to manage relationships and build confidence if they're experiencing anxiety and depression.

Study Website

Path 2 Purpose: Primary Care and Community-Based Prevention of Mental Disorders in Adolescents
University of Illinois College of Medicine

Project Information

Benjamin Van Voorhees, MD, MPH
University of Illinois at Chicago
Primary Care and Community-Based Prevention of Mental Disorders in Adolescents

Key Dates

August 2018
March 2025

Study Registration Information


Award Type
Health Conditions Health Conditions These are the broad terms we use to categorize our funded research studies; specific diseases or conditions are included within the appropriate larger category. Note: not all of our funded projects focus on a single disease or condition; some touch on multiple diseases or conditions, research methods, or broader health system interventions. Such projects won’t be listed by a primary disease/condition and so won’t appear if you use this filter tool to find them. View Glossary
Populations Populations PCORI is interested in research that seeks to better understand how different clinical and health system options work for different people. These populations are frequently studied in our portfolio or identified as being of interest by our stakeholders. View Glossary
Intervention Strategy Intervention Strategies PCORI funds comparative clinical effectiveness research (CER) studies that compare two or more options or approaches to health care, or that compare different ways of delivering or receiving care. View Glossary
State State The state where the project originates, or where the primary institution or organization is located. View Glossary
Last updated: October 18, 2023