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      Adherence in Internet Interventions for Anxiety and Depression: Systematic Review


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          Open access websites which deliver cognitive and behavioral interventions for anxiety and depression are characterised by poor adherence. We need to understand more about adherence in order to maximize the impact of Internet-based interventions on the disease burden associated with common mental disorders.


          The aims of this paper are to review briefly the adherence literature with respect to Internet interventions and to investigate the rates of dropout and compliance in randomized controlled trials of anxiety and depression Web studies.


          A systematic review of randomized controlled trials using Internet interventions for anxiety and depression was conducted, and data was collected on dropout and adherence, predictors of adherence, and reasons for dropout.


          Relative to reported rates of dropout from open access sites, the present study found that the rates of attrition in randomized controlled trials were lower, ranging from approximately 1 - 50%. Predictors of adherence included disease severity, treatment length, and chronicity. Very few studies formally examined reasons for dropout, and most studies failed to use appropriate statistical techniques to analyze missing data.


          Dropout rates from randomized controlled trials of Web interventions are low relative to dropout from open access websites. The development of theoretical models of adherence is as important in the area of Internet intervention research as it is in the behavioral health literature. Disease-based factors in anxiety and depression need further investigation.

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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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            Effect of web-based depression literacy and cognitive-behavioural therapy interventions on stigmatising attitudes to depression: randomised controlled trial.

            Little is known about the efficacy of educational interventions for reducing the stigma associated with depression. To investigate the effects on stigma of two internet depression sites. A sample of 525 individuals with elevated scores on a depression assessment scale were randomly allocated to a depression information website (BluePages), a cognitive-behavioural skills training website (MoodGYM) or an attention control condition. Personal stigma (personal stigmatising attitudes to depression) and perceived stigma (perception of what most other people believe) were assessed before and after the intervention. Relative to the control, the internet sites significantly reduced personal stigma, although the effects were small. BluePages had no effect on perceived stigma and MoodGYM was associated with an increase in perceived stigma relative to the control. Changes in stigma were not mediated by changes in depression, depression literacy or cognitive-behavioural therapy literacy. The internet warrants further investigation as a means of delivering stigma reduction programmes for depression.
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              Barriers to the uptake of computerized cognitive behavioural therapy: a systematic review of the quantitative and qualitative evidence.

              Studies of cognitive behavioural therapy delivered by computer (cCBT) show clinical efficacy for treating anxiety and depression, but have not focused on barriers to uptake. Potential barriers include adverse consequences, accessibility and acceptability. An integrated systematic review was conducted of quantitative and qualitative studies and surveys from multiple electronic databases where computers delivered cCBT for anxiety or depression. Substantial numbers of potential participants are lost prior to trials commencing with little explanation. Among trial participants, drop-outs may be higher in the cCBT groups (odds ratio 2.03, 95% confidence interval 0.81-5.09). Only a median of 56% completed a full course of cCBT and personal circumstance was a more common cause of drop-out than difficulties with the technology or social background. Risk was rarely assessed in the majority of programs. Significant staff time was needed to support clients. Therapists were more negative about cCBT than clients. While cCBT is likely to be an effective and acceptable intervention for some people, there are barriers to its uptake that will substantially limit its impact if not addressed. These included investigating the outcome and attitudes of those who do not make it as far as cCBT trials and why so few finish a full course of cCBT.

                Author and article information

                J Med Internet Res
                Journal of Medical Internet Research
                Gunther Eysenbach (Centre for Global eHealth Innovation, Toronto, Canada )
                Apr-Jun 2009
                24 April 2009
                : 11
                : 2
                [1] 1simpleCentre for Mental Health Research simpleThe Australian National University CanberraAustralia
                © Christensen H, Griffiths KM, Farrer L. Originally published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research (http://www.jmir.org), 24.04.2009.  

                This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License ( http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work, first published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research, is properly cited. The complete bibliographic information, a link to the original publication on http://www.jmir.org/, as well as this copyright and license information must be included.


                patient dropouts,depression,depressive disorder, major,anxiety disorders,internet,mental health services,treatment outcome


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