An online intervention for reducing depressive symptoms: secondary benefits for self-esteem, empowerment and quality of life

Psychiatry Res. 2014 Apr 30;216(1):60-6. doi: 10.1016/j.psychres.2014.01.041. Epub 2014 Feb 3.


Internet-based interventions are increasingly recognized as effective for the treatment and prevention of depression; however, there is a paucity of research investigating potential secondary benefits. From a consumer perspective, improvements in indicators of wellbeing such as perceived quality of life may represent the most important outcomes for evaluating the effectiveness of an intervention. This study investigated the 'secondary' benefits for self-esteem, empowerment, quality of life and perceived social support of two 12-week online depression interventions when delivered alone and in combination. Participants comprised 298 adults displaying elevated psychological distress. Participants were randomised to receive: an Internet Support Group (ISG); an automated Internet psycho-educational training program for depression; a combination of these conditions; or a control website. Analyses were performed on an intent-to-treat basis. Following the automated training program immediate improvements were shown in participants׳ self-esteem and empowerment relative to control participants. Improvements in perceived quality of life were reported 6-months following the completion of the intervention when combined with an ISG. These findings provide initial evidence for the effectiveness of this online intervention for improving individual wellbeing beyond the primary aim of the treatment. However, further research is required to investigate the mechanisms underlying improvement in these secondary outcomes.

Keywords: Depression; Empowerment; Internet; Quality of life; Self-esteem.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Depression / therapy*
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Internet*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Psychotherapy / methods*
  • Quality of Life*
  • Self Concept*
  • Self-Help Groups*
  • Telemedicine / methods*
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Young Adult

Associated data

  • ISRCTN/ISRCTN65657330