Conventional Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Facilitated by an Internet-Based Support System: Feasibility Study at a Psychiatric Outpatient Clinic

JMIR Res Protoc. 2017 Aug 24;6(8):e158. doi: 10.2196/resprot.6035.


Background: Cognitive behavioral therapies have been shown to be effective for a variety of psychiatric and somatic disorders, but some obstacles can be noted in regular psychiatric care; for example, low adherence to treatment protocols may undermine effects. Treatments delivered via the Internet have shown promising results, and it is an open question if the blend of Internet-delivered and conventional face-to-face cognitive behavioral therapies may help to overcome some of the barriers of evidence-based treatments in psychiatric care.

Objective: We evaluated the feasibility of an Internet-based support system at an outpatient psychiatric clinic in Sweden. For instance, the support system made it possible to send messages and share information between the therapist and the patient before and after therapy sessions at the clinic.

Methods: Nine clinical psychologists participated and 33 patients were enrolled in the current study. We evaluated the usability and technology acceptance after 12 weeks of access. Moreover, clinical data on common psychiatric symptoms were assessed before and after the presentation of the support system.

Results: In line with our previous study in a university setting, the Internet-based support system has the potential to be feasible also when delivered in a regular psychiatric setting. Notably, some components in the system were less frequently used. We also found that patients improved on common outcome measures for depressive and anxious symptoms (effect sizes, as determined by Cohen d, ranged from 0.20-0.69).

Conclusions: This study adds to the literature suggesting that modern information technology could be aligned with conventional face-to-face services.

Keywords: Internet-treatment; blended therapy; cognitive behavioral therapy; psychiatry.