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Internet-Based Treatment for Depression Found Effective

24 Apr

Researchers from the Department of Preventive Medicine at Northwestern University in Chicago, IL mounted a single arm feasibility trial to examine whether an internet-based, 7-week intervention for depression (including phone support) could increase adherence rates and improvement in depression outcomes.
The intervention required frequent brief log-ins for self-monitoring and feedback as well as email and brief telephone support, guided by a theory-driven manualized protocol.

Of the 21 patients enrolled, 2 (9.5%) dropped out of treatment. Patients logged in 23.2 ± 12.2 times over the 7 weeks. Significant reductions in depression were found on all measures, including the Patient Health Questionnaire depression scale (PHQ-8) (Cohen's d = 1.96, P < .001), the Hamilton Rating Scale for Depression (d = 1.34, P < .001), and diagnosis of major depressive episode (P < .001).

In this small study, the attrition rate was far lower than seen either in Internet studies or trials of face-to-face interventions, and depression outcomes were substantial. Therefore, these findings support the feasibility of providing a multimodal e-mental health treatment to patients with depression.
Although it is premature to make any firm conclusions based on these data, they do support taking this to the next step with a randomized controlled trial examining the independent and joint effects of Internet and telephone administered treatments for depression.

Citation:  Mohr DC, Duffecy J, Jin L, Ludman EJ, Lewis A, Begale M, McCarthy M Jr. Multimodal e-mental health treatment for depression: a feasibility trial. Journal of Medical Internet Research. 2010 Dec 19;12 (5):e48. 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