Aim of OWI-US
This longitudinal study known as the “Online Well-being Interventions - University Study (OWI-US)” is part of a larger programme of research on internet-based psychological therapies to reduce common mental health problems and improve well-being in our communities (see also RID Trial). This programme of research on web-based psychological interventions is being conducted by staff at the University of Otago in collaboration with colleagues from Australia and the United States of America.
The overall aim of the OWI-US study is to examine whether online psychological therapies are effective in promoting mental health and well-being amongst university students, especially amongst male students. We have undertaken the following pilot studies to date:
2011 - a feasibility study to determine the appropriateness and acceptability of an online gate-keeper training program for Residential Assistants (RAs) to detect emotional distress in their peers and support their peers to obtain professional help.
2012 - a pilot randomised controlled trial on student mental well-being, including testing the online gate keeper training program from the 2011 study.
2013 - a follow-up study on the mental health and well-being of our participants from the 2021 study and a new sample of residential college students from 2013. Preliminary findings from this study have been conveyed to the participants, University Residential Colleges, Student Health Services and Vice Chancellor with a view to encouraging greater support for student well-being on campus.
2014 - a comparison of student mental well-being between residential college and local (non-college) students.
Studies from 2012 - 2014 included an evaluation of the effects of a brief online gratitude intervention on well-being and mental health in a pre-post study design.
2015 - a pilot pre-post trial of an online mindfulness program (Palouse Mindfulness) for students and its impact on mental well-being and related factors.
2016 - a pilot controlled trial of an online education program (RealConsent) on sexual consent for students at residential colleges.
2017 - a pilot controlled trial of a suite of brief positive psychology interventions with residential college students to address well-being, belonging, and their academic achievement during the academic year.
2018 - 2020 Our research above has contributed to a new project in collaboration with our colleagues in the Health Science Division at Otago University to examine first year health science students' mental well-being and related factors. This will help us to identify brief interventions to better support them during the academic year. This project is funded by two Teaching Development Grants from the University of Otago.
2018 - 2021 Our research with the OWI-US studies has helped us to contribute to the development of a collaborative well-being project with colleagues from Va’a o Tautai, the Pacific entity within the Division of Health Sciences at the University of Otago. This three-year, mixed methods, prospective cohort study, known as Ola Malohi (via Va’a o Tautai), is funded by the Health Research Council of New Zealand. The overall aim is to examine mental health and well-being in a first -year Pacific student cohort over three years and identify risk and protective factors for Pacific students' mental health, wellbeing, and academic achievement.
All of the studies received ethical approval from the University of Otago's Human Ethics Committee (2011-2021).
An overview of our past research on well-being, mental health, suicide and violence prevention, including collaborative research with colleagues in New Zealand and overseas can be found just below.