Meta-analysis of technology-assisted interventions for social anxiety disorder

J Anxiety Disord. 2016 Aug:42:71-84. doi: 10.1016/j.janxdis.2016.06.007. Epub 2016 Jun 18.


This meta-analysis investigated the efficacy of technology-assisted interventions for individuals with social anxiety disorder (SAD). A systematic literature search in the databases Medline, PsychInfo, and Web of Science revealed 37 randomized controlled trials (2991 participants) that were grouped into internet delivered cognitive behavior therapy (ICBT; 21 trials), virtual reality exposure therapy (VRET; 3 trials), and cognitive bias modification (CBM; 13 trials). Patients undergoing ICBT and VRET showed significantly less SAD symptoms at postassessment than passive control conditions (g=0.84 and 0.82, respectively). Compared to active control conditions, ICBT had a small advantage (g=0.38) and VRET showed comparable effects (p>0.05). CBM was not more effective than passive control conditions, except when delivered in the laboratory (g=0.35). While the efficacy of CBM was limited, substantial evidence for ICBT and preliminary evidence for VRET suggests that both can effectively reduce SAD symptoms indicating the potential of technology-assisted interventions for SAD.

Keywords: Cognitive bias modification; Internet cognitive behavior therapy; Social anxiety disorder; Virtual reality exposure.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy*
  • Fear
  • Humans
  • Internet*
  • Phobia, Social / psychology
  • Phobia, Social / therapy*
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Virtual Reality Exposure Therapy*