Internet-based interventions for traumatic stress-related mental health problems: a review and suggestion for future research

Clin Psychol Rev. 2009 Jul;29(5):410-20. doi: 10.1016/j.cpr.2009.04.001. Epub 2009 Apr 7.


Exposure to potentially traumatic events is a common occurrence. Most individuals exposed to such an event are resilient or recover rapidly, although some individuals develop psychological problems that warrant treatment. However, a small percentage of individuals seek traditional treatment, thereby calling for novel approaches or methodologies of treatment. The present paper provides a comprehensive and critical review of the extant literature on computerized and internet-based interventions (IBIs) for traumatic stress-related conditions (i.e., panic disorder, posttraumatic stress disorder/complicated grief, depression, comorbid anxiety and depression, alcohol abuse, smoking cessation). Generally, computerized or IBIs for depression and anxiety are yielding effect sizes that are comparable to traditional psychosocial treatment. Interventions aimed at alcohol and smoking cessation generally have lower effect sizes than do IBIs for anxiety and depression. Most interventions reviewed in this paper included common components (e.g., were developed through a cognitive behavioral framework and included psychoeducation, cognitive restructuring, goal setting, exposure). Therefore, it is possible that these shared features may in part account for symptom reduction. Little is known regarding mechanisms of change. Future directions for novel web-based approaches to treatment are provided.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Internet*
  • Mental Disorders / etiology*
  • Mental Disorders / psychology
  • Mental Disorders / therapy*
  • Psychotherapy / methods*
  • Psychotherapy / trends
  • Stress, Psychological / complications*
  • Stress, Psychological / psychology
  • Stress, Psychological / therapy*