A randomized head to head trial of MoodSwings.net.au: an Internet based self-help program for bipolar disorder

J Affect Disord. 2015 Jan 15;171:13-21. doi: 10.1016/j.jad.2014.08.008. Epub 2014 Sep 22.


Background: Adjunctive psychosocial interventions are efficacious in bipolar disorder, but their incorporation into routine management plans are often confounded by cost and access constraints. We report here a comparative evaluation of two online programs hosted on a single website (www.moodswings.net.au). A basic version, called MoodSwings (MS), contains psychoeducation material and asynchronous discussion boards; and a more interactive program, MoodSwings Plus (MS-Plus), combined the basic psychoeducation material and discussion boards with elements of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. These programs were evaluated in a head-to-head study design.

Method: Participants with Bipolar I or II disorder (n=156) were randomized to receive either MoodSwings or MoodSwings-Plus. Outcomes included mood symptoms, the occurrence of relapse, functionality, Locus of Control, social support, quality of life and medication adherence.

Results: Participants in both groups showed baseline to endpoint reductions in mood symptoms and improvements in functionality, quality of life and medication adherence. The MoodSwings-Plus group showed a greater number of within-group changes on symptoms and functioning in depression and mania, quality of life and social support, across both poles of the illness. MoodSwings-Plus was superior to MoodSwings in improvement on symptoms of mania scores at 12 months (p=0.02) but not on the incidence of recurrence.

Limitations: The study did not have an attention control group and therefore could not demonstrate efficacy of the two active arms. There was notable (81%) attrition by 12 months from baseline.

Conclusion: This study suggests that both CBT and psychoeducation delivered online may have utility in the management of bipolar disorder. They are feasible, readily accepted, and associated with improvement.

Keywords: Bipolar disorder; CBT; Internet; Online; Psychoeducation; Psychological.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Bipolar Disorder / psychology
  • Bipolar Disorder / therapy*
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy / methods*
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Health Behavior
  • Humans
  • Internet*
  • Male
  • Medication Adherence / psychology
  • Medication Adherence / statistics & numerical data
  • Middle Aged
  • Patient Education as Topic / methods*
  • Program Evaluation / methods*
  • Program Evaluation / statistics & numerical data
  • Quality of Life / psychology
  • Recurrence
  • Self Care / methods*
  • Self Care / psychology
  • Self Care / statistics & numerical data
  • Social Support
  • Therapy, Computer-Assisted / methods*
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Young Adult

Associated data

  • ANZCTR/12607000118404