Barriers to a classroom-based universal prevention program for depressive symptoms in Chinese adolescents: A qualitative study

Xinfeng Tang, Daniel Fu Keung Wong, Hanghang Xu, Liqi Hou*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Universal prevention is a practical approach to preventing depressive symptoms in adolescents, but barriers might reduce its effectiveness. This study explored possible barriers to universal prevention of depressive symptoms in Chinese adolescents. We interviewed thirteen adolescents who participated in the program. Thematic analysis was used to analyse the data. The results revealed three categories of barriers. The first category was participants’ maladaptive coping strategies and beliefs about negative emotions. They tended to use avoidance coping, did not believe that negative emotions can be regulated, and had an unrealistic wish for a quick fix. The second category originated from the prevention contents. The complexity of the psychological techniques and the lack of proficiency among the participants were important barriers. The third category was the setting of the psychological course. Participants were reluctant to invest cognitive effort in the psychological course. The large-size class also made it challenging to have an in-depth exploration into emotions and thoughts. Our study added to the existing literature by providing more knowledge of barriers to universal prevention. Future research and practice need to adequately address these barriers so that universal prevention can be conducted more effectively.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)e2226-e2235
Number of pages10
JournalHealth and Social Care in the Community
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2022

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Health Policy
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Sociology and Political Science

User-Defined Keywords

  • adolescent
  • barriers
  • depressive symptoms
  • thematic analysis
  • universal prevention
  • China
  • Humans
  • Adolescent
  • Depression/prevention & control
  • Qualitative Research
  • Emotions
  • Adaptation, Psychological


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