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      Overcoming Depression on the Internet (ODIN) (2): A Randomized Trial of a Self-Help Depression Skills Program With Reminders

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          Abstract

          Background

          Guided self-help programs for depression (with associated therapist contact) have been successfully delivered over the Internet. However, previous trials of pure self-help Internet programs for depression (without therapist contact), including an earlier trial conducted by us, have failed to yield positive results. We hypothesized that methods to increase participant usage of the intervention, such as postcard or telephone reminders, might result in significant effects on depression.

          Objectives

          This paper presents a second randomized trial of a pure self-help Internet site, ODIN (Overcoming Depression on the InterNet), for adults with self-reported depression. We hypothesized that frequently reminded participants receiving the Internet program would report greater reduction in depression symptoms and greater improvements in mental and physical health functioning than a comparison group with usual treatment and no access to ODIN.

          Methods

          This was a three-arm randomized control trial with a usual treatment control group and two ODIN intervention groups receiving reminders through postcards or brief telephone calls. The setting was a nonprofit health maintenance organization (HMO). We mailed recruitment brochures by US post to two groups: adults (n = 6030) who received depression medication or psychotherapy in the previous 30 days, and an age- and gender-matched group of adults (n = 6021) who did not receive such services. At enrollment and at 5-, 10- and 16-weeks follow-up, participants were reminded by email (and telephone, if nonresponsive) to complete online versions of the Center for Epidemiological Studies Depression Scale (CES-D) and the Short Form 12 (SF-12). We also recorded participant HMO health care services utilization in the 12 months following study enrollment.

          Results

          Out of a recruitment pool of 12051 approached subjects, 255 persons accessed the Internet enrollment site, completed the online consent form, and were randomized to one of the three groups: (1) treatment as usual control group without access to the ODIN website (n = 100), (2) ODIN program group with postcard reminders (n = 75), and (3) ODIN program group with telephone reminders (n = 80). Across all groups, follow-up completion rates were 64% (n = 164) at 5 weeks, 68% (n = 173) at 10 weeks, and 66% (n = 169) at 16 weeks. In an intention-to-treat analysis, intervention participants reported greater reductions in depression compared to the control group ( P = .03; effect size = 0.277 standard deviation units). A more pronounced effect was detected among participants who were more severely depressed at baseline ( P = .02; effect size = 0.537 standard deviation units). By the end of the study, 20% more intervention participants moved from the disordered to normal range on the CES-D. We found no difference between the two intervention groups with different reminders in outcomes measures or in frequency of log-ons. We also found no significant intervention effects on the SF-12 or health care services.

          Conclusions

          In contrast to our earlier trial, in which participants were not reminded to use ODIN, in this trial we found a positive effect of the ODIN intervention compared to the control group. Future studies should address limitations of this trial, including relatively low enrollment and follow-up completion rates, and a restricted number of outcome measures. However, the low incremental costs of delivering this Internet program makes it feasible to offer this type of program to large populations with widespread Internet access.

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          Most cited references 40

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          Delivering interventions for depression by using the internet: randomised controlled trial.

          To evaluate the efficacy of two internet interventions for community-dwelling individuals with symptoms of depression--a psychoeducation website offering information about depression and an interactive website offering cognitive behaviour therapy. Randomised controlled trial. Internet users in the community, in Canberra, Australia. 525 individuals with increased depressive symptoms recruited by survey and randomly allocated to a website offering information about depression (n = 166) or a cognitive behaviour therapy website (n = 182), or a control intervention using an attention placebo (n = 178). Change in depression, dysfunctional thoughts; knowledge of medical, psychological, and lifestyle treatments; and knowledge of cognitive behaviour therapy. Intention to treat analyses indicated that information about depression and interventions that used cognitive behaviour therapy and were delivered via the internet were more effective than a credible control intervention in reducing symptoms of depression in a community sample. For the intervention that delivered cognitive behaviour therapy the reduction in score on the depression scale of the Center for Epidemiologic Studies was 3.2 (95% confidence interval 0.9 to 5.4). For the "depression literacy" site (BluePages), the reduction was 3.0 (95% confidence interval 0.6 to 5.2). Cognitive behaviour therapy (MoodGYM) reduced dysfunctional thinking and increased knowledge of cognitive behaviour therapy. Depression literacy (BluePages) significantly improved participants' understanding of effective evidence based treatments for depression (P < 0.05). Both cognitive behaviour therapy and psychoeducation delivered via the internet are effective in reducing symptoms of depression.
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            A meta-analysis of the effects of cognitive therapy in depressed patients.

            Cognitive therapy (CT) has been studied in 78 controlled clinical trials from 1977 to 1996. The meta-analysis used Hedges and Olkin d+ and included 48 high-quality controlled trials. The 2765 patients presented non-psychotic and non-bipolar major depression, or dysthymia of mild to moderate severity. At post-test CT appeared significantly better than waiting-list, antidepressants (P < 0.0001) and a group of miscellaneous therapies (P < 0.01). But, CT was equal to behaviour therapy. As between-trial homogeneity was not met, the comparisons of CT with waiting-list or placebo, and other therapies should be taken cautiously. In contrast, between-trial homogeneity was high for the comparisons of CT with behaviour therapy and antidepressants. A review of eight follow-up studies comparing CT with antidepressants suggested that CT may prevent relapses in the long-term, while relapse rate is high with antidepressants in naturalistic studies. CT is effective in patients with mild or moderate depression.
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              Targeted prevention of unipolar depressive disorder in an at-risk sample of high school adolescents: a randomized trial of a group cognitive intervention.

              This investigation attempted to prevent unipolar depressive episodes in a sample of high school adolescents with an elevated risk of depressive disorder. Adolescents at risk for future depressive disorder by virtue of having elevated depressive symptomatology were selected with a two-stage case-finding procedure. The Center for Epidemiologic Studies-Depression Scale (CES-D) was administered to 1,652 students; adolescents with elevated CES-D scores were interviewed with the Schedule for Affective Disorders and Schizophrenia for School-Age Children. Subjects with current affective diagnoses were referred to nonexperimental services. The remaining 150 consenting subjects were considered at risk for future depression and randomized to either a 15-session cognitive group prevention intervention or an "usual care" control condition. Subjects were reassessed for DSM-III-R diagnostic status after the intervention and at 6- and 12-month follow-up points. Survival analyses indicated a significant 12-month advantage for the prevention program, with affective disorder total incidence rates of 14.5% for the active intervention, versus 25.7% for the control condition. No differences were detected for nonaffective disorders across the study period. Depressive disorder can be successfully prevented among adolescents with an elevated future risk.
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                Author and article information

                Contributors
                Journal
                J Med Internet Res
                JMIR
                Journal of Medical Internet Research
                Gunther Eysenbach (Centre for Global eHealth Innovation, Toronto, Canada )
                1438-8871
                Apr-Jun 2005
                21 June 2005
                : 7
                : 2
                Affiliations
                1simpleKaiser Permanente Center for Health Research Portland, ORUSA
                Article
                v7i2e16
                10.2196/jmir.7.2.e16
                1550641
                15998607
                © Greg Clarke, Donna Eubanks, Ed Reid, Chris Kelleher, Elizabeth O'Connor, Lynn L DeBar, Frances Lynch, Sonia Nunley, Christina Gullion. Originally published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research (http://www.jmir.org), 21.6.2005. Except where otherwise noted, articles published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research are distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (http://www.creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited, including full bibliographic details and the URL (see "please cite as" above), and this statement is included.
                Categories
                Original Paper

                Medicine

                randomized trial, self-help, cognitive therapy, depression, internet

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