Videoconferencing Psychotherapy and Depression: A Systematic Review

Telemed J E Health. 2019 Jun;25(6):435-446. doi: 10.1089/tmj.2018.0058. Epub 2018 Jul 26.


Introduction:Depression is the leading cause of disability in the world. Despite the prevalence of depression, a small proportion of individuals seek mental health services. A cost-effective method for increasing access to mental health services is the implementation of telemental-health programs. This review aims to summarize the state of the field on the efficacy and effectiveness of videoconferencing psychotherapy (VCP) for the treatment of depression.Materials and Methods:Systematic literature searches were performed using PsychINFO, PubMed, and EMBASE. Specific inclusion criteria were used to identify controlled and uncontrolled studies evaluating VCP for the treatment of depression. Data extraction included study assessment quality, research design, sample size, intervention details, outcome results, intervention effect size, and statistical differences between VCP and in-person (IP) therapy.Results:Of the 1,424 abstracts screened, 92 articles were critically reviewed. Thirty-three articles were included in the review, with 14 randomized controlled studies, 4 controlled nonrandomized studies, and 15 uncontrolled studies. Sample size ranged from 1 to 243 participants. Twenty-one studies reported statistically significant reductions in depressive symptoms following VCP, and the median effect size for studies ranged from medium to the very large range. Most controlled studies reported no statistical differences between VCP and IP groups receiving the same intervention.Conclusions:VCP for the treatment of depression is a promising method for delivering mental health services. More rigorous research is needed to evaluate VCP on depression in various contexts and participants.

Publication types

  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy / methods
  • Depression / therapy*
  • Humans
  • Psychotherapy / methods*
  • Videoconferencing / organization & administration*