Research Projects
Instant message-delivered brief Internet-based cognitive behavioural therapy intervention for post-stroke depression: a mixed method study

Programme(s) to which this project applies:

☑ MPhil/PhD ☑ MRes[Med] ☑ URIS

The proposed study aims to 1) investigate the effect of therapist-guided brief Internet-based cognitive behavioural therapy (iCBT), delivery through instant messaging applications (e.g. WhatsApp) to provide personalised and synchronous post-stroke depression (PSD) support and 2) understand the experience of and compliance with the intervention.

160 community-dwelling stroke survivors with Patient Health Questionnaire-9 (PHQ-9) scores ranging from 5 to 19 indicating mild to moderate depressive symptoms will be recruited and then individually randomised into the Intervention group (n=80) or Control group (n=80). Intervention group will receive 1) instant message-delivered brief iCBT for 3 months at participants’ chosen times and frequencies, and 2) therapist-led text or voice message-based PSD support to enhance the effects of iCBT through real- time counselling and practical advice. Control group will only receive messages on general mental health information and reminders to participate in follow-up surveys. The primary outcome is PHQ-9 score at 6 months. Secondary outcomes will include blood tests (depression-sensitive biomarkers including cortisol and high-sensitivity c- reactive protein), anxiety (GAD-7), perceived stress (PSS-4), loneliness (ULS-8), and quality of life (EQ-5D-5L) at 6 months. A cost-effectiveness analysis and post-trial qualitative study will be conducted to compute the cost-effectiveness of the intervention and understand the participants’ experience of and compliance with the intervention (n=20) respectively.

Dr JJJ Lee, School of Nursing

Dr Jay Lee is an Assistant Professor at the School of Nursing of the University of Hong Kong. He started his early career as a stroke nurse. After five years clinical experience, he went on to pursue his Masters and PhD in the School of Health and Social Sciences at the University of Edinburgh. Dr Lee has conducted studies in the research topics of stroke care, addictive behaviours including tobacco smoking, alcohol drinking, and e-device use, and nursing and health education using diverse research designs including mixed methods. Particularly, he has significant experience in using research methodologies such as grounded theory, phenomenology, interpretive description, and thematic analysis to conduct rigorous qualitative studies. He is an editor and editorial board member in several journals in Nursing and Neurology fields.

Scholars Hub

For more information or to express interest for this project, please email the supervisor or the specified contact point in the project description.  Interested candidates are advised to enclose with your email:

  1. your CV,
  2. a brief description of your research interest and experience, and
  3. two reference letters (not required for HKUMed UG students seeking MRes[Med]/URIS projects).

Information on the research programme, funding support and admission documentations could be referenced online at the Research Postgraduate Admissions website. General admission enquiries should be directed to

HKUMed MBBS students interested in the Master of Research in Medicine (MRes[Med]) programme may visit the programme website for more information.  

HKUMed UG students interested in the Undergraduate Research Internship Scheme (URIS) may visit the scheme’s website for more information.