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Web-based cognitive behavior therapy for depression.

15 Aug

Web-based cognitive behavior therapy: analysis of site usage and changes in depression and anxiety scores.

Helen Christensen of The Centre for Mental Health Research at The Australian National University in Canberra (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.) developed a free Internet-based cognitive-behavior therapy intervention called MoodGYM at http://moodgym.anu.edu.au. The MoodGYM is designed to treat and prevent depression in young people, and is especially targeted for those with no formal contact with professional help.

All visitors to the MoodGYM site over about 6 months were investigated as aggregate data, including 2909 registrants of whom 1503 had completed at least one online assessment. (Outcomes for 71 university students enrolled in an Abnormal Psychology course who visited the site for educational training were included and examined separately.)

Over the first 6-month period of operation, the server recorded 817,284 hits and 17,646 separate sessions. Approximately 20% of the sessions lasted more than 16 minutes. Registrants who completed at least one assessment reported levels of depression and anxiety that exceeded those found in the general population.

For the Web-based population, both anxiety and depression scores decreased significantly as individuals progressed through the interactive modules on the site (five in all).

The study concludes that web sites are a practical and promising means of delivering cognitive-behavioral interventions for preventing depression and anxiety to the general public. However, randomized controlled trials are still needed to establish the effectiveness of these interventions.

Citation: Christensen H, Griffiths KM, Korten A. Web-based cognitive behavior therapy: analysis of site usage and changes in depression and anxiety scores. Journal of Medical Internet Research 2002 Jan-Mar;4(1):e3.
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