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      Hands-off: Study protocol of a two-armed randomized controlled trial of a web-based self-help tool to reduce problematic pornography use

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          Background and Aims

          The past-year prevalence of problematic pornography use (PPU) was 1–6% in adult populations. As a result of treatment obstacles and barriers, such as unaffordable treatments, only a minority of problematic pornography users may seek treatment. Having a free, online, self-help program may overcome treatment barriers and may help those individuals who cannot receive traditional or offline treatment for PPU. Although the effectiveness of such online programs reducing substance use and problematic gambling have been reported, no prior study has examined the efficacy of an online self-help intervention aiming to reduce PPU.


          This two-armed randomized controlled trial (RCT) will examine the effectiveness of an online self-help program ( Hands-off) to reduce PPU, while also considering psychopathological comorbidities. The six-week intervention condition includes six core modules developed to reduce PPU based on motivational interviewing, cognitive behavioral therapy, mindfulness, and wise social-psychological intervention techniques. The target sample size is 242 participants. Self-report questionnaires will be administered at baseline, right after the end of the intervention, at one-month, and three-month follow-ups after the end of the intervention. The primary outcome will be the level of PPU. Secondary outcomes will include pornography use frequency, pornography craving, pornography use-avoidance self-efficacy, sex mindset, sexual satisfaction, negative and positive emotions, and life satisfaction. Data will be analyzed on an intention-to-treat basis using linear mixed models.


          Results will be reported at conferences and published in a scientific peer-reviewed journal. The participants will be sent a lay-person-friendly summary of the results via e-mail.

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          Author and article information

          Journal of Behavioral Addictions
          J Behav Addict
          Akadémiai Kiadó (Budapest )
          June 2020
          09 July 2020
          : 9
          : 2
          : 433-445
          [1 ] Institute of Psychology, ELTE Eötvös Loránd University , Budapest, Hungary
          [2 ] deptDépartement de Psychologie, Université de Montréal , Montréal, Canada
          [3 ] deptSwiss Research Institute for Public Health and Addiction ISGF, Associated to the University of Zurich , Zurich, Switzerland
          [4 ] deptDepartment of Psychology, Stanford University , Stanford, CA, USA
          [5 ] deptUniversité d’Artois, Unité de Recherche Pluridisciplinaire Sport Santé Société , Sherpas, Lille, France
          Author notes
          © 2020 The Author(s)

          Open Access statement. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited, a link to the CC License is provided, and changes – if any – are indicated. (SID_1)

          Page count
          Figures: 06, Tables: 03, References: 73, Pages: 13
          Self URI (journal page):
          Funded by: Hungarian National Research, Development, and Innovation Office
          Award ID: KKP126835
          Award ID: NKFIH-1157-8/2019-DT
          Funded by: New National Excellence Program of the Ministry of Human CapacitiesÚNKP-18-3
          Funded by: SCOUP – Sexuality and Couples – Fonds de recherche du Québec, Société et Culture
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