News /
min read /
May 22, 2024

Study Finds Spark Direct Effective in Improving Mood Among Adults With Depression


Big Health is pleased to announce the results of a new randomized controlled trial showing that Spark Direct, our digital CBT program for depression, leads to meaningful improvements in mood in adults. Study participants who received Spark had improvements in mood 2.5 times larger than participants in the control group, and their mood improvements were maintained even after they completed the 5-week program through an additional 5-week follow up period. The Spark participants also reported an improvement in quality of life nearly twice as large as the waiting list group.

Study participants not only experienced mood and quality of life improvements, but also rated Spark as easy to use (95% of participants). Qualitative feedback from participants highlighted that Spark was able to enhance motivation to engage in meaningful and mood lifting activities through an uplifting tone and a sense of accountability. In addition, participants appreciated gaining insight into their own patterns of emotions and behaviors, and learning concrete coping strategies.

Prior research on Spark has shown it can improve mood in youth aged 13 through 22 an age group with especially high rates of depression and who are considered digital natives. But depression is highly prevalent in adults too, impacting over 22 million adults in the United States alone.1 For the first time, this new study extends previous positive results from Spark in youth to adults. 

The study randomized 61 adults to receive Spark right away or a waitlist control condition in which participants received access to Spark after waiting for 5 weeks. Study participants were adults ages 22 years and older, diagnosed with major depression disorder, and experiencing moderate to moderately-severe depression symptoms. Change in mood was the primary outcome measure which was assessed at five weeks post-randomization. Participants who received Spark were also evaluated for maintenance of mood improvements at a 5-week follow-up timepoint.

The study results were recently presented at the Anxiety and Depression Association of America annual conference, with high interest and enthusiasm from conference attendees. Big Health Senior Manager of Clinical Research Dr Tali Ball attended the conference to present the study results on behalf of the team. “There was a lot more conference programming than I’ve seen before on digital programs for anxiety and depression,” she said. “It’s clear there’s a growing interest from mental health clinicians and researchers in incorporating digital programs, particularly those with a solid evidence base. I got a lot of positive engagement and feedback on the presentation - one clinical researcher even told me it was his favorite of the conference!”

Spark Direct is a self-paced digital program based on established and effective cognitive-behavioral techniques. Spark contains content and interactive exercises covering mental health education, behavioral activation, connecting with core personal values, mindfulness, and long-term skill maintenance. 

1SAMHSA (2022). National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH).

Spark Direct is a digital program that may help individuals live well with major depressive disorder (MDD) and symptoms of depression by providing them with cognitive and behavioral techniques that can improve mood. Spark Direct has not been reviewed or approved by the Food & Drug Administration and is not intended to diagnose or treat any medical condition. Please read the instructions for use.

DOC-3597 Effective 05/2024

During the COVID-19 public health emergency, Sleepio and Daylight are being made available as treatments for insomnia disorder and generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), respectively, without a prescription. Sleepio and Daylight have not been cleared by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the treatment of insomnia disorder and GAD, respectively.

1. Qaseem, A., Kansagara, D., Forciea, M. A., Cooke, M., & Denberg, T. D. (2016). Management of chronic insomnia disorder in adults: a clinical practice guideline from the American College of Physicians. Annals of Internal Medicine, 165(2), 125-133.2. Riemann, D., Baglioni, C., Bassetti, C., Bjorvatn, B., Dolenc Groselj, L., Ellis, J. G., … & Spiegelhalder, K. (2017). European guideline for the diagnosis and treatment of insomnia. Journal of Sleep Research, 26(6), 675-700.3. Wilson, S., Anderson, K., Baldwin, D., Dijk, D. J., Espie, A., Espie, C., … & Sharpley, A. (2019). British Association for Psychopharmacology consensus statement on evidence-based treatment of insomnia, parasomnias and circadian rhythm disorders: an update. Journal of Psychopharmacology, 33(8), 923-947.4. King’s Technology Evaluation Centre. (2017, November 9). Overview: Health app: SLEEPIO for adults with poor Sleep: Advice. NICE. Espie, C. A., Kyle, S. D., Williams, C., Ong, J. C., Douglas, N. J., Hames, P., & Brown, J. S. (2012). A randomized, placebo-controlled trial of online cognitive behavioral therapy for chronic insomnia disorder delivered via an automated media-rich web application. Sleep, 35(6), 769-781.6. Carl, J. R., Miller, C. B., Henry, A. L., Davis, M. L., Stott, R., Smits, J. A., … & Espie, C. A. (2020). Efficacy of digital cognitive behavioral therapy for moderate‐to‐severe symptoms of generalized anxiety disorder: A randomized controlled trial. Depression and Anxiety, 37(12), 1168-1178.

DOC-3046 Effective 11/2023