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Trial registered on ANZCTR

Registration number
Ethics application status
Date submitted
Date registered
Date last updated
Date data sharing statement initially provided
Type of registration
Prospectively registered

Titles & IDs
Public title
Peer Tree: A smartphone application for tertiary students
Scientific title
A randomised control trial of the Peer Tree intervention targeting loneliness in tertiary students
Secondary ID [1] 297533 0
Nil Known
Universal Trial Number (UTN)
Trial acronym
Linked study record

Health condition
Health condition(s) or problem(s) studied:
Loneliness 311744 0
Condition category
Condition code
Mental Health 310369 310369 0 0
Other mental health disorders

Study type
Description of intervention(s) / exposure
Participants will be assessed to determine their eligibility in the study, part of this assessment period is to confirm that participants do not meet criteria for a mental health diagnosis (e.g., mood disorder, anxiety disorder). All participants enrolled in the trial will undergo three assessment sessions: baseline (before Peer Tree), post-intervention (immediately after the 6 week intervention), and three months post-intervention. After the baseline assessment, participants will be randomised to one of the following two arms: Peer Tree Smartphone Application or Treatment as Usual.

Peer Tree Smartphone Application
Participants will use the Peer Tree smartphone application individually for approximately 5-10 minutes per day for 6 consecutive weeks. They will have the flexibility to use the app wherever and whenever they would like with researchers being able to measure meta-data for adherence to using the smartphone application. The intervention involves short video clips in the form of animations, shared experience videos, actor videos, and expert videos displaying information about different social and emotional processing and positive psychology principles. The content of the videos include a range of different themes from identifying strengths to expressing gratitude to finding wider meaning.

Participants rate their mood daily and are presented with one video per day. They answer questions about the videos to earn in-app rewards (e.g., tokens/badges to interact with the app). Challenges are provided throughout the intervention to assist participants in exercising the skills they have learnt and to maximise access building relationships, these are not compulsory but are encouraged. Participants will also be able to access an online, moderated forum where they can discuss the different topics and challenges within the app. These will be moderated by clinicians, researchers, and peer moderators to ensure the safety of the app users.
Intervention code [1] 313769 0
Treatment: Other
Comparator / control treatment
Treatment as usual (TAU):
Participants in this group will complete their study as per their norm. This will act as the control condition for the intervention. Treatment as usual here refers to the participants' completing their studies as if they were not enrolled in the research project. Once the three month post-intervention assessment is held, participants will have access to the content in the form of the previous version of the app, +Connect. +Connect does not include the interactive components and previous research has shown the app to be safe for consumers to use (manuscript under review).
Control group

Primary outcome [1] 319247 0
mean UCLA Loneliness Scale (UCLA-LS)
Timepoint [1] 319247 0
Baseline, End of Treatment, and three-month post intervention
Secondary outcome [1] 367413 0
mean Social Interaction Anxiety Index (SIAS)
Timepoint [1] 367413 0
Baseline, End of Treatment, Three-months post-intervention
Secondary outcome [2] 367414 0
mean Centre for Epidemiology Studies - Depression Scale (CESD)
Timepoint [2] 367414 0
Baseline, End of Treatment, Three-months post-intervention
Secondary outcome [3] 367415 0
mean Positive and Negative Affect Scale (PANAS)
Timepoint [3] 367415 0
Baseline, End of Treatment, Three-months post-intervention
Secondary outcome [4] 367417 0
Scales of Psychological Wellbeing (SPWB)
Timepoint [4] 367417 0
Baseline, End of Treatment, Three-Months Post-Intervention
Secondary outcome [5] 367418 0
Assessment of Quality of Life (AQoL 4-D)
Timepoint [5] 367418 0
Baseline, End of Treatment, Three-Months Post-intervention
Secondary outcome [6] 367419 0
adherence assessed by PeerTree meta-data
Timepoint [6] 367419 0
Baseline, End of Treatment, Three-Months Post-Intervention
Secondary outcome [7] 367421 0
mean PeerTree App Acceptability Ratings derived from purpose built questionnaire
Timepoint [7] 367421 0
End of Treatment
Secondary outcome [8] 367422 0
mean Peer Tree app Feasibility ratings derived from purpose built questionnaire
Timepoint [8] 367422 0
End of Treatment
Secondary outcome [9] 367423 0
mean Peer Tree app Usability ratings derived from purpose built questionnaire
Timepoint [9] 367423 0
End of Treatment

Key inclusion criteria
1) No diagnosis of a psychiatric or mental health condition
2) Aged between 18-25
3) Owns a smartphone device (iPhone or Android device)
4) Enrolled at Swinburne University of Technology
5) At risk of dropping out of university
Minimum age
18 Years
Maximum age
25 Years
Both males and females
Can healthy volunteers participate?
Key exclusion criteria
1) Diagnosed with a psychiatric illness or mental health condition
2) Mild, Moderate, or High risk to self, others, objects/property
3) under the age of 18
4) Current substance dependence or abuse

Study design
Purpose of the study
Allocation to intervention
Randomised controlled trial
Procedure for enrolling a subject and allocating the treatment (allocation concealment procedures)
Allocation is not concealed
Methods used to generate the sequence in which subjects will be randomised (sequence generation)
Computerised Sequence Allocation to Random Groups
Masking / blinding
Open (masking not used)
Who is / are masked / blinded?

Intervention assignment
Other design features
Not Applicable
Type of endpoint(s)
Statistical methods / analysis
All data processing and analysis will occur either in the statistical package for the social sciences (SPSS), Mplus, or R data analysis software. Data manipulation will only occur if the data violates the statistical assumptions of the tests that we would be conducting. In this instance, the data will be transformed into a format that does not jeopardise the interpretability of the scores.

We envisage that any combination of the following will be used to assess the outcomes of the study: Mixed Model ANOVAs, Standard and Hierarchical Regression, Mediation and multiple mediation, latent trajectory modelling, t-tests and comparisons, and finally correlations.

Recruitment status
Date of first participant enrolment
Date of last participant enrolment
Date of last data collection
Sample size
Accrual to date
Recruitment in Australia
Recruitment state(s)
Recruitment postcode(s) [1] 25823 0
3122 - Hawthorn

Funding & Sponsors
Funding source category [1] 302091 0
Name [1] 302091 0
Swinburne University of Technology
Address [1] 302091 0
Swinburne University of Technology,
PO Box 218,
Hawthorn VIC, 3122
Country [1] 302091 0
Primary sponsor type
Swinburne University of Technology
Swinburne University of Technology,
P O Box 218,
Secondary sponsor category [1] 301912 0
Name [1] 301912 0
Address [1] 301912 0
Country [1] 301912 0

Ethics approval
Ethics application status
Ethics committee name [1] 302770 0
Swinburne University of Technology Human Research Ethics Committee
Ethics committee address [1] 302770 0
Swinburne University of Technology,
PO BOX 218,
Hawthorn, 3122
Ethics committee country [1] 302770 0
Date submitted for ethics approval [1] 302770 0
Approval date [1] 302770 0
Ethics approval number [1] 302770 0

Brief summary
The aim of the research project is to deliver and test an innovative digital smartphone intervention, Peer Tree, which is designed to reduce loneliness in young people and will be applied to students marked as at risk of dropping out. The intervention is administered daily for 6 weeks.

Young people aged 18-25 years will be recruited. In accordance with a randomised control trial study design, after participants complete the baseline assessment, they will be randomised to either the treatment as usual or intervention group. Those in the waitlist group will complete treatment as usual but will be provided with the same content once they have completed the research project. This will be provided in the form of +Connect, the predecessor of Peer Tree that doesn’t not contain the forums.

Our research is expected to contribute to the development of personalised, modular mental health interventions that are cost-effective and efficient. There are currently no personalised, modular interventions available to address loneliness in tertiary education students.
Trial website
Trial related presentations / publications
Public notes

Principal investigator
Name 91342 0
Dr Michelle lim
Address 91342 0
Swinburne University of Technology,
John Street, Hawthorn, VIC, 3122, Australia
Country 91342 0
Phone 91342 0
+61 3 9214 5109
Fax 91342 0
Email 91342 0
Contact person for public queries
Name 91343 0
Dr Robert Eres
Address 91343 0
Swinburne University of Technology,
John Street, Hawthorn, VIC, 3122, Australia
Country 91343 0
Phone 91343 0
+61 3 9214 4868
Fax 91343 0
Email 91343 0
Contact person for scientific queries
Name 91344 0
Dr Michelle lim
Address 91344 0
Swinburne University of Technology,
John Street, Hawthorn, VIC, 3122, Australia
Country 91344 0
Phone 91344 0
+61 3 9214 5109
Fax 91344 0
Email 91344 0

Data sharing statement
Will individual participant data (IPD) for this trial be available (including data dictionaries)?
No/undecided IPD sharing reason/comment
Our ethics board do not allow for individual participant data to be provided. Only data presented at the group level can be made readily available.
What supporting documents are/will be available?
No other documents available
Summary results
No Results