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Delivering interventions for depression by using the internet.

08 Mar

In an ongoing assessment of web-based interventions designed to help people suffering from depression, Australian National University researcher, Helen Christensen and her team compared two internet interventions - one, a psychoeducation website offering information about depression, and the other, an interactive website offering cognitive behavior therapy at the screen.

Internet users in Canberra (n = 525) with increased depressive symptoms were randomly assigned to either the informational website, (BluePages, http://bluepages.anu.edu.au) (n = 166) or a cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) website (MoodGYM, http://moodgym.anu.edu.au) (n = 182) or a control group (n = 178) that received an attention placebo - weekly contact from a lay interviewer to discuss lifestyle factors such as exercise, education, and health habits.

After 6 weeks, subjects filled out questionnaires that assessed changes in depression, dysfunctional thoughts; knowledge of medical, psychological, and lifestyle treatments; and knowledge of cognitive behavior therapy. Results showed that depression literacy was found to be as effective as cognitive behavior therapy in reducing symptoms of depression. More subjects dropped out of MoodGym than BluePages. CBT (MoodGYM) reduced dysfunctional thinking and increased knowledge of cognitive behavior therapy. Depression literacy (BluePages) significantly improved participants'' understanding of effective treatments for depression (P < 0.05).

The study concludes that both cognitive behaviour therapy and psychoeducation delivered via the internet are effective in reducing symptoms of depression. There are plans for further follow-up at 12 months.

Citation: Christensen H, Griffiths KM, Jorm AF. Delivering interventions for depression by using the internet: randomised controlled trial. BMJ. 2004 Jan 31;328(7434):265. Epub 2004 Jan 23. This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Belleruth Naparstek

Psychotherapist, author and guided imagery pioneer Belleruth Naparstek is the creator of the popular Health Journeys guided imagery audio series. Her latest book on imagery and posttraumatic stress, Invisible Heroes: Survivors of Trauma and How They Heal (Bantam Dell), won the Spirituality & Health Top 50 Books Award