Help from home for depression: A randomised controlled trial comparing internet-delivered cognitive behaviour therapy with bibliotherapy for depression

Internet Interv. 2017 May 18;9:25-37. doi: 10.1016/j.invent.2017.05.001. eCollection 2017 Sep.


Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) is a leading cause of the Global Burden of Disease. Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) is an effective treatment for MDD, but access can be impaired due to numerous barriers. Internet-delivered CBT (iCBT) can be utilised to overcome treatment barriers and is an effective treatment for depression, but has never been compared to bibliotherapy. This Randomised Controlled Trial (RCT) included participants meeting diagnostic criteria for MDD (n = 270) being randomised to either: iCBT (n = 61), a CBT self-help book (bCBT) (n = 77), a meditation self-help book (bMED) (n = 64) or wait-list control (WLC) (n = 68). The primary outcome was the Patient Health Questionnaire 9-item scale (PHQ-9) at 12-weeks (post-treatment). All three active interventions were significantly more effective than WLC in reducing depression at post-treatment, but there were no significant differences between the groups. All three interventions led to large within-group reductions in PHQ-9 scores at post-treatment (g = 0.88-1.69), which were maintained at 3-month follow-up, although there was some evidence of relapse in the bMED group (within-group g [post to follow-up] = 0.09-1.04). Self-help based interventions could be beneficial in treating depression, however vigilance needs to be applied when selecting from the range of materials available. Replication of this study with a larger sample is required.

Keywords: Bibliotherapy; Depression; Internet-delivered cognitive behavioural therapy.