Open Access Study protocol

Study protocol: a dissemination trial of computerized psychological treatment for depression and alcohol/other drug use comorbidity in an Australian clinical service

Frances J Kay-Lambkin12*, Amanda L Baker2, Alison Healey34, Samantha Wolfe34, Aaron Simpson3, Michelle Brooks34, Jenny Bowman3 and Steven Childs4

Author Affiliations

1 National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre, University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia

2 Centre for Brain and Mental Health Research (CBMHR), University of Newcastle, Newcastle, Australia

3 School of Psychology, University of Newcastle, Newcastle, Australia

4 Central Coast Drug and Alcohol Clinical Service, Northern Sydney Central Coast Area Health Service, Sydney, Australia

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BMC Psychiatry 2012, 12:77  doi:10.1186/1471-244X-12-77

Published: 7 July 2012



The rise of the internet and related technologies has significant implications for the treatment of complex health problems, including the combination of depression and alcohol/other drug (AOD) misuse. To date, no research exists to test the real world uptake of internet and computer-delivered treatment programs in clinical practice. This study is important, as it is the first to examine the adoption of the SHADE treatment program, a DVD-based psychological treatment for depression and AOD use comorbidity, by clinicians working in a publicly-funded AOD clinical service. The study protocol that follows describes the methodology of this dissemination trial.


19 clinicians within an AOD service on the Central Coast of New South Wales, Australia, will be recruited to the trial. Consenting clinicians will participate in a baseline focus group discussion designed to explore their experiences and perceived barriers to adopting innovation in their clinical practice. Computer comfort and openness to innovation will also be assessed. Throughout the trial, current, new and wait-list clients will be referred to the research program via the clinical service, which will involve clients completing a baseline and 15-week follow-up clinical assessment with independent research assistants, comprising a range of mental health and AOD measures. Clinicians will also complete session checklists following each clinical session with a client, outlining the extent to which the SHADE computer program was used. Therapeutic alliance will be measured at intake and discharge from both the clinician and client perspectives.


This study will provide comprehensive data on the factors associated with the adoption of an innovative, computer-delivered evidence-based treatment program, SHADE, by clinicians working in an AOD service. The results will contribute to the development of a model of dissemination of SHADE, which could be applied to a range of technological innovations.

Clinical trials registry

Australian Clinical Trial Registration Number: ACTRN12611000382976.