Doctor of Nursing Practice Program

Emmalee Gerstenberger, DNP, MSN, APRN, CPNP-PC

Emmalee Gerstenberger
  • Committee Chair Name & Credentials:
    Susan Beaird, DNP, CPNP, PMHS
  • Committee Member Name & Credentials:
    Brittany Nelson, DNP, CPNP-PC, and Richard Watters, PhD, RN  


DNP Project Abstract

Evaluation of the Creating Opportunities for Personal Empowerment (COPE) Program: Adolescent Depression in Primary Care During the COVID-19 Pandemic

The purpose of this project was to evaluate COPE - a cognitive behavioral therapy-based intervention - during the COVID-19 pandemic by measuring adolescents’ severity of depression before and after completion of COPE.

A retrospective chart review was conducted to include patient demographics and depression severity based on questionnaire scores (PHQ-A). Differences between pre- and post- intervention scores were analyzed with a two-tailed Wilcoxen signed rank test.

Thirty-nine adolescents who met DSM-V criteria for depression (85% female, 95% Caucasian, 67% non-Hispanic or Latino, ages 12-18 years) completed the COPE program from March 2020 through December 2021. Twenty-four of these adolescents completed a pre- and post- intervention PHQ-A. Comparison showed that PHQ-A scores before COPE completion (Mdn = 15.5, M = 15.2, SD = 1.1) were significantly different than PHQ-A scores after COPE completion (Mdn = 7, M = 8.8, SD = 1.1); W(22) = 13, z =  3.672, p = 0.00024). The standardized effect size was large (0.78).

Implications for Practice
Completion of COPE in the primary care setting was associated with a significant decrease in depression severity among 24 adolescents during the COVID-19 pandemic. COPE can provide accessible and effective mental health care for adolescents with depression.