Objective: In a randomized controlled trial Titov et al. (2008) demonstrated significant benefit from an Internet- and email-based treatment programme for social phobia. The present study (Shyness 2) seeks to replicate that finding and compares results with benchmark data.
Method: Eighty-eight individuals with social phobia were randomly assigned to a clinician-assisted computerized cognitive behavioural treatment programme or to a waitlist control group. Participants completed the same treatment programme used in Shyness 1, consisting of six online lessons, cognitive behavioural homework assignments, email contact with a therapist, and participation in an online discussion forum. An intention-to-treat model was used for data analyses.
Results: A total of 80% of treatment group participants completed all lessons, and post-treatment data were obtained from 78/81 participants. Treatment group participants each had an average of 127 min of therapist contact over the 10 week programme, including an average of 22 email contacts plus therapist responses to forum postings. Pre- to post-treatment differences were seen between treatment and waitlist participants across two measures of symptoms of social phobia, and across a measure of disability. Mean within- and between-group effect sizes (Cohen's d) across the two primary outcome measures were 1.18, and 1.20, respectively. Quantitative and qualitative data indicate that the procedure is very acceptable to participants.
Conclusions: These results closely replicate those obtained in Shyness 1, indicating that the treatment procedure is reliable. These results compare favourably with outcomes reported in benchmarking studies from high-quality face-to-face treatment programmes for social phobia. These results provide further positive data about the utility of Internet-based guided self-help programmes for people with social phobia.