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  • AMRF

Update! Whitu, well-being intervention: Participant feedback

Updated: Nov 9, 2021

Researchers in Psychological Medicine at the University of Auckland have completed two trials of the prototype version of the Whitu app, a mobile phone app aimed at providing young New Zealanders with tools to help them improve well-being, reduce anxiety and depressio and deal with the Covid-19 pandemic

During the single-arm, pilot-trial In August 2020, 20 young people reported significant improvements in well-being, depression, anxiety and stress between baseline and 6-week follow-up. These participants also provided the team with valuable feedback to help improve the look and feel of the app and its cultural appeal. The researchers submitted a paper outlining this study to an international journal.

Co-lead researcher Dr Hiran Thabrew says,"Our app designer quickly set about making the suggested changes to Whitu between August and September 2020. We then recruited 90 young people to a randomised controlled trial (RCT) of Whitu vs waitlist control between October 2020 and April 2021.

We are pleased to report that preliminary analysis of findings from the larger trial demonstrate improvements in almost all outcome measures (including well-being, depression and stress) at 1-month and 3-month follow-up.

Feedback from the app users includes the following:

"As someone with anxiety I found these tools extremely helpful for me"
"I feel like I should make a special mention of the karanga at the beginning of the app when i first opened and downloaded it. As a young Māori woman, being called into the app and have it welcome all my problems and grief instantly sparked a spiritual connection for me and i instantly felt at ease and felt safe enough to embark on my healing and wellbeing journey. I also enjoyed the constant use of Te Reo Māori and the progress of watching my puriri tree grow throughout the 4 weeks. It was a pleasant surprise and so culturally inclusive. The voice overs were pleasant to listen to, the videos, sounds and effects captivating. The best app after what was such a rollercoaster year! Thank you!"

With co-lead researcher Dr Anna Serlachius, the team are in the process of completing data analysis and publication of their findings.

"Having provisionally ascertained Whitu's effectiveness, we are now embarking on further studies to see whether it needs adaptation for use as a cost-effective and scalable well-being intervention for New Zealand's high school students and young people with diabetes.

"As always, our team are incredibly grateful to AMRF for your support with this project."


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