Background: Depression and anxiety are common, disabling and chronic. Self-guided internet-delivered treatments are popular, but few people complete them. New strategies are required to realise their potential.
Aims: To evaluate the effect of automated emails on the effectiveness, safety, and acceptability of a new automated transdiagnostic self-guided internet-delivered treatment, the Wellbeing Course, for people with depression and anxiety.
Method: A randomised controlled trial was conducted through the website: www.ecentreclinic.org. Two hundred and fifty seven people with elevated symptoms were randomly allocated to the 8 week course either with or without automated emails, or to a waitlist control group. Primary outcome measures were the Patient Health Questionnaire 9-Item (PHQ-9) and the Generalized Anxiety Disorder 7-Item (GAD-7).
Results: Participants in the treatment groups had lower PHQ-9 and GAD-7 scores at post-treatment than controls. Automated emails increased rates of course completion (58% vs. 35%), and improved outcomes in a subsample with elevated symptoms.
Conclusions: The new self-guided course was beneficial, and automated emails facilitated outcomes. Further attention to strategies that facilitate adherence, learning, and safety will help realise the potential of self-guided interventions.
Trial registration: Australian and New Zealand Clinical Trials Registry ACTRN12610001058066.