Internet-based guided self-help for several anxiety disorders: a randomized controlled trial comparing a tailored with a standardized disorder-specific approach

Psychotherapy (Chic). 2014 Jun;51(2):207-19. doi: 10.1037/a0032527. Epub 2013 Sep 16.


Internet-delivered self-help with minimal therapist guidance has shown promising results for a number of diagnoses. Most of the evidence comes from studies evaluating standardized disorder-specific treatments. A recent development in the field includes transdiagnostic and tailored Internet-based treatments that address comorbid symptoms and a broader range of patients. This study evaluated an Internet-based tailored guided self-help treatment, which targeted symptoms of social anxiety disorder, panic disorder with or without agoraphobia, and generalized anxiety disorder. The tailored treatment was compared both with standardized disorder-specific Internet-based treatment and with a wait-list control group. Both active treatment conditions were based on cognitive-behavioral therapy and lasted for 8 weeks. A total of 132 individuals meeting diagnostic criteria for at least one of the anxiety disorders were randomly assigned to 1 of the 3 conditions. Both treatment groups showed significant symptom reductions as compared with the wait-list control group on primary disorder-unspecific measures of anxiety, depression, and general symptomatology and on secondary anxiety disorder-specific measures. Based on the intention-to-treat sample, mean between-group effect sizes were d = 0.80 for the tailored treatment and d = 0.82 for the standardized treatment, versus wait-list controls. Treatment gains were maintained at 6-month follow-up. No differences were found between the 2 active treatment conditions on any of the measures, including a telephone-administered diagnostic interview conducted at posttreatment. The findings suggest that both Internet-based tailored guided self-help treatments and Internet-based standardized treatments are promising treatment options for several anxiety disorders.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Anxiety Disorders / psychology
  • Anxiety Disorders / therapy*
  • Austria
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy / methods*
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy / statistics & numerical data
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Germany
  • Humans
  • Internet*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Psychiatric Status Rating Scales / statistics & numerical data
  • Quality of Life / psychology
  • Self Care / methods*
  • Self Care / psychology
  • Self Care / statistics & numerical data
  • Therapy, Computer-Assisted / methods*
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Waiting Lists
  • Young Adult