Brief Educational Workshops in Secondary Schools Trial (BESST trial), a school-based cluster randomised controlled trial of the DISCOVER workshop for 16–18-year-olds: recruitment and baseline characteristics

Kirsty James, Stephen Lisk, Chloe Payne-Cook, Zamena Farishta, Maria Farrelly, Ayesha Sheikh, Monika Slusarczyk, Sarah Byford, Crispin Day, Jessica Deighton, Claire Evans, Peter Fonagy, David Saunders, Irene Sclare, James Shearer, Paul Stallard, Timothy Weaver, Jynna Yarrum, Ben Carter, June S.L. Brown

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: The Brief Educational Workshops in Secondary Schools Trial (BESST) is an England-wide school-based cluster randomised controlled trial assessing the clinical and cost-effectiveness of an open-access psychological workshop programme (DISCOVER) for 16–18-year-olds. This baseline paper describes the self-referral and other recruitment processes used in this study and the baseline characteristics of the enrolled schools and participants. Method: We enrolled 900 participants from 57 Secondary schools across England from 4th October 2021 to 10th November 2022. Schools were randomised to receive either the DISCOVER day-long Stress workshop or treatment as usual which included signposting information. Participants will be followed up for 6 months with outcome data collection at baseline, 3-month, and 6-month post randomisation. Results: Schools were recruited from a geographically and ethnically diverse sample across England. To reduce stigma, students were invited to self-refer into the study if they wanted help for stress. Their mean age was 17.2 (SD = 0.6), 641 (71%) were female and 411 (45.6%) were from ethnic minority groups. The general wellbeing of our sample measured using the Mood and Feelings Questionnaire (MFQ) found 314 (35%) of students exhibited symptoms of depression at baseline. Eighty percent of students reported low wellbeing on the Warwick Edinburgh Mental Wellbeing Scale (WEMWBS) suggesting that although the overall sample mean is below the cut-off for depression, the self-referral approach used in this study supports distressed students in coming forward. Conclusion: The BESST study will continue to follow up participants to collect outcome data and results will be analysed once all the data have been collected. Trial registration: ISRCTN registry ISRCTN90912799. Registered on 28 May 2020.

Original languageEnglish
Article number302
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 31 May 2024

Data Availability Statement

The chief investigator will act as custodian of the data in accordance with
legislation and the terms of the research sponsor (King’s College London) and
funder (National Institute for Health Research, UK).


  • Adolescents
  • Baseline
  • Mental health
  • Open access
  • Recruitment
  • School based

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Pharmacology (medical)

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