A transmedia storytelling intervention with interactive elements to benefit latinas' mental health: Feasibility, acceptability, and efficacy

Mary Sue V. Heilemann, Patricia D. Soderlund, Priscilla Kehoe, Mary Lynn Brecht

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


Background: Latinos report higher rates of depression and anxiety than US whites but are less likely to receive care. Transmedia storytelling interventions accessible on the Internet via smartphones, tablets, and computers hold promise for reducing reluctance to explore or get help for symptoms because they are private, convenient, and can reach large numbers of people, including Latinas with mental health needs. Objective: The purpose of this study was to examine the feasibility, acceptability, and preliminary efficacy of a mental health transmedia intervention for Latinas with elevated symptoms of depression, anxiety, or both. Methods: A total of 28 symptomatic English-speaking Latina women aged 21 to 48 years participated in a 6-week study using a within-group design. All aspects of the study were completed via telephone or Internet. Participants used their personal devices to engage the Web-based transmedia intervention (in English) that included story-based videos, a data-informed psychotherapeutic video, an interactive video sequence, and a blog written from the point of view of one of the characters with links to mental health resources. Perceived confidence to get help and perceived importance for seeking immediate help were both measured using single-item questions. Participants completed surveys at baseline (via telephone) and 1 and 6 weeks after media engagement that measured various factors, including depression (Patient Health Questionnaire; PHQ-9 and PHQ-8) and anxiety (Generalized Anxiety Disorder scale; GAD-7). A telephone interview was conducted within 72 hours of media engagement. Action taken or intentions to get help (single-item question) and talking about the videos with others (single-item question) were measured 1 and 6 weeks after media engagement. Repeated measures analysis of variance was used to assess change in depression (PHQ-8) and anxiety (GAD-7) before transmedia engagement and 1 and 6 weeks after. Spearman correlations evaluated the association of confidence and importance of getting help with action taken, anxiety, and depression. Results: All 28 Latinas (English speakers) who engaged with the transmedia remained in the 6-week study. Within 1 week of transmedia engagement, 39% of women took action to get help, and 82% discussed the media with others. Symptoms of depression (F2,54=9.0, P<.001) and anxiety (F2,54=18.7, P<.001) significantly reduced across time. Higher levels of confidence were significantly associated with actions taken at 1 (P=.005) and 6 weeks (P=.04), and higher levels of importance were significantly associated with actions taken at 1 (P=.009) and 6 weeks (P=.003). Higher levels of confidence were associated with lower levels of depression (P=.04) and anxiety (P=.01) at 6 weeks. Conclusions: Preliminary findings indicate a culturally tailored mental health transmedia intervention is a feasible approach that holds promise for engaging large numbers of symptomatic English-speaking Latina women to begin the process of seeking help, as well as decreasing symptoms of anxiety and depression.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere47
JournalJMIR Mental Health
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 1 2017

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This study was funded in part by an Intramural Grant from the UCLA School of Nursing and by the National Institutes of Health/National Institute for Nursing Research T32 NR007077 (for the second author).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017 MarySue V Heilemann, Patricia D Soderlund, Priscilla Kehoe, Mary-Lynn Brecht.


  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Internet
  • Mental health
  • Mood disorders
  • Smartphone
  • Transmedia


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