YP Face IT for Australia? Establishing acceptability of an online psychosocial intervention for Australian adolescents living with appearance-related distress

Miss Caroline Gee1, Associate Professor Peter Newcombe2, Dr Jessica Maskell1,3, Professor Roy Kimble1,4, Dr Heidi Williamson5

1Centre For Children’s Burns and Trauma Research, Centre for Children’s Health Research, The University of Queensland, South Brisbane, Australia, 2School of Psychology, The University of Queensland, St Lucia, Australia, 3Gold Coast University Hospital, Southport, Australia, 4Pegg Leditschke Children’s Burns Centre, Lady Cilento Children’s Hospital, South Brisbane, Australia , 5Centre for Appearance Research, University of the West of England, Bristol, United Kingdom


Adolescents living with appearance-altering conditions or injuries are at risk of developing long-term psychosocial issues due to being perceived by society as looking ‘different’. However, few evidence-based online interventions are currently available to treat appearance-related distress.

Developed in Britain, Young People’s Face IT (YP Face IT) is an online therapeutic intervention combining cognitive behavioural therapy and social skills training to target the psychosocial consequences of an altered appearance. Eleven Australian adolescents aged 12 to 17 years old, with a range of appearance-altering conditions or injuries were recruited to determine YP Face IT’s acceptability for Australia. Participants were given access to YP Face IT for two weeks, then participated in a semi-structured qualitative interview. Interviews explored YP Face IT’s visual appeal, comprehension and relevance of content. Participants also provided feedback on ease of completion, level of support required, barriers preventing engagement and suggested changes. Acceptability data was analysed using content analysis.

Participants reported YP Face IT provided helpful support and practical techniques to manage psychosocial difficulties. “Anxiety beating” skills and personal coping stories featured in the program were widely accepted. Adolescents enjoyed the website’s easy online access and navigation. Feedback from participants included more suitable content and examples to represent Australian contexts, rephrasing British words and colloquialisms, altering design and subject matter to increase appeal for older adolescents. Young people discussed barriers to completing the program and advertising strategies. Findings suggest YP Face IT to be positively endorsed but would require modifications to enhance its appeal and acceptability in Australia.

Key Words
YP Face IT, appearance-distress, psychosocial intervention, adolescence, acceptability

Caroline is currently completing her PhD with the Centre for Children’s Burns and Trauma Research, Brisbane, Australia. Her PhD is exploring the psychosocial impact of living with an appearance-altering condition or injury for Australian children and adolescents. Caroline has completed extensive qualitative work with health professionals and young people with the aim to improve current gaps and barriers in appearance-related psychosocial service provision.

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