Internet-based cognitive-behavior therapy for procrastination: A randomized controlled trial

J Consult Clin Psychol. 2015 Aug;83(4):808-24. doi: 10.1037/ccp0000023. Epub 2015 May 4.


Objective: Procrastination can be a persistent behavior pattern associated with personal distress. However, research investigating different treatment interventions is scarce, and no randomized controlled trial has examined the efficacy of cognitive-behavior therapy (CBT). Meanwhile, Internet-based CBT has been found promising for several conditions, but has not yet been used for procrastination.

Method: Participants (N = 150) were randomized to guided self-help, unguided self-help, and wait-list control. Outcome measures were administered before and after treatment, or weekly throughout the treatment period. They included the Pure Procrastination Scale, the Irrational Procrastination Scale, the Susceptibility to Temptation Scale, the Montgomery Åsberg Depression Rating Scale-Self-report version, the Generalized Anxiety Disorder Assessment, and the Quality of Life Inventory. The intention-to-treat principle was used for all statistical analyses.

Results: Mixed-effects models revealed moderate between-groups effect sizes comparing guided and unguided self-help with wait-list control; the Pure Procrastination Scale, Cohen's d = 0.70, 95% confidence interval (CI) [0.29, 1.10], and d = 0.50, 95% CI [0.10, 0.90], and the Irrational Procrastination Scale, d = 0.81 95% CI [0.40, 1.22], and d = 0.69 95% CI [0.29, 1.09]. Clinically significant change was achieved among 31.3-40.0% for guided self-help, compared with 24.0-36.0% for unguided self-help. Neither of the treatment conditions was found to be superior on any of the outcome measures, Fs(98, 65.17-72.55) < 1.70, p > .19.

Conclusion: Internet-based CBT could be useful for managing self-reported difficulties due to procrastination, both with and without the guidance of a therapist.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy* / methods
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Internet*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Motivation
  • Self Efficacy*
  • Self Report
  • Time Management* / psychology
  • Young Adult