Effectiveness of online, school-based Positive Psychology Interventions to improve mental health and wellbeing: A systematic review





Online positive psychology interventions provide a more equitable method for young people to access wellbeing education at school than more traditional face to face programs.  This systematic review aimed to examine the effectiveness of universal, online, school-based, positive psychology interventions using recommendations by the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic reviews and Meta-analyses - protocols (PRISMA-P). Nine articles were identified for the review and were deductively, thematically analyzed using an enhanced RE-AIM framework which adopts a wider systems perspective including evaluation of socio-ecological readiness system wide buy-in and consideration of micro (individual) to macro (governing bodies) levels of influence, on both reach and adoption. Effectiveness assessment identified common factors for success related primarily to implementation (e.g., readiness, reach, outcomes, adoption, implementation, and maintenance). For example, buy-in from stakeholders was found to be highest when PPIs are age appropriate, engaging and helpful. Also brief, more frequent sessions, may be more effective than less frequent longer sessions and multi-level stakeholder buy-in may result in higher completion rates leading to better overall program effectiveness.


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Author Biographies

Jacqueline Francis, Centre for Positive Psychology, University of Melbourne

Jacqui is an educator and researcher, with extensive experience teaching in primary schools in the UK and Australia. Jacqui currently contributes to undergraduate breadth subjects and masters subjects at the Centre for Positive Psychology (CPP), at the Melbourne Graduate School of Education (MGSE), for the University of Melbourne (UoM). Jacqui is research assistant for the UoM CPP Wellbeing Literacy and Language Research Stream. Jacqui has a Bachelor of Behavioural Science (Psychology major), Bachelor of Teaching (Hons), her Master of Education, and is currently a PhD candidate at UoM CPP. Her studies inquire into planning for, developing and measuring effective online positive psychology interventions. Jacqui has a passion for wellbeing, and has purpose driven intention to find and share pathways to the language, knowledge and skills of wellbeing, facilitating access equity, such that individuals and their communities can thrive.

Dianne Vella-Brodrick, Centre for Positive Psychology, The University of Melbourne

Professor Dianne Vella-Brodrick (PhD) holds the Gerry Higgins Chair in Positive Psychology and is Deputy Director and Head of Research at the Centre for Positive Psychology at the University of Melbourne. She is a registered psychologist specializing in health psychology.  She served as Treasurer and Secretary of the International Positive Psychology Association (IPPA) and is currently on the IPPA Council of Advisors.  Dianne’s research interests include the development and evaluation of well-being programs, particularly in positive education and performance optimisation. She specialises in innovative mixed method designs which utilise the latest technology, experience sampling method, co-design and biological well-being indices.

Tan Chyuan-Chin, Centre for Positive Psychology, The University of Melbourne

Dr Tan-Chyuan Chin is Senior Research Fellow and Director of The Wellbeing Profiler at the Centre for Positive Psychology at The University of Melbourne. Tan-Chyuan's research examines the enablers and contextual factors of what contributes to optimal and sustained wellbeing over the lifespan. She specializes in multi-method approaches of measuring wellbeing for program evaluation, using a combination of established and innovative techniques across physiological, psychological and behavioural experience sampling methods. Collectively, her work highlights the use of comprehensive, innovative yet considered approaches to conceptualizing, measuring and understanding complex concepts such as music engagement and wellbeing.