Depression presents a serious condition for the individual and a major challenge to health care and society. Internet-based cognitive behavior therapy (ICBT) is a treatment option supported in several trials, but there is as yet a lack of effective studies of ICBT in "real world" primary care settings. We examined whether ICBT differed from treatment-as-usual (TAU) in reducing depressive symptoms after 3 months. TAU comprised of visits to general practitioner, registered nurse, antidepressant drugs, waiting list for, or psychotherapy, or combinations of these alternatives. Patients, aged ≥ 18 years, who tentatively met criteria for mild to moderate depression at 16 primary care centers in the south-western region of Sweden were recruited and then assessed in a diagnostic interview. A total of 90 patients were randomized to either TAU or ICBT. The ICBT treatment included interactive elements online, a workbook, a CD with mindfulness and acceptance exercises, and minimal therapist contact. The treatment period lasted for 12 weeks after which both groups were assessed. The main outcome measure was Beck Depression Inventory-II (BDI-II). Additional measures were Montgomery Åsberg Depression Rating Scale - self rating version (MADRS-S) and Beck Anxiety Inventory (BAI). The analyses revealed no significant difference between the two groups at post treatment, neither on BDI-II, MADRS-S, nor BAI. Twenty patients (56%) in the ICBT treatment completed all seven modules. Our findings suggest that ICBT may be successfully delivered in primary care and that the effectiveness, after 3 months, is at par with TAU.
Keywords: ICBT; Internet-based treatment; depression; effectiveness; primary care; randomized controlled trial.