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Computer-assisted CBT packages fail to relieve patients with depression

Computer-assisted cognitive behavioural therapy (cCBT) is not an effective treatment for depression, research suggests.

In the largest study of its kind to date, University of York researchers studied 691 patients with depression from 83 general practices across England. Each was randomly assigned to receive either usual GP care, or usual GP care with one of two cCBT packages eight one-hour sessions of Beating the Blues or six one-hour sessions of MoodGYM.

Patients in the cCBT groups were called once a week by a technician who provided encouragement and support. All participants were assessed for depression at four, 12 and 24 months.

Depressed patients disengage with computer therapy systems

Picture credit: iStock

The researchers found that, by four months, 44% of patients in the usual care group remained depressed, as did 50% of patients in the Beating the Blues group and 49% using MoodGYM. They also found only 18% of patients completed all eight sessions of Beating the Blues, and just

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In the largest study of its kind to date, University of York researchers studied 691 patients with depression from 83 general practices across England. Each was randomly assigned to receive either usual GP care, or usual GP care with one of two cCBT packages – eight one-hour sessions of Beating the Blues or six one-hour sessions of MoodGYM.

Patients in the cCBT groups were called once a week by a technician who provided encouragement and support. All participants were assessed for depression at four, 12 and 24 months.

Depressed patients disengage with computer therapy systems

Picture credit: iStock

The researchers found that, by four months, 44% of patients in the usual care group remained depressed, as did 50% of patients in the Beating the Blues group and 49% using MoodGYM. They also found only 18% of patients completed all eight sessions of Beating the Blues, and just 16% completed all six sessions of MoodGYM.

‘Participants wanted a greater level of clinical support as an adjunct therapy. In the absence of this, they commonly disengaged with the computer programmes,’ the study authors said.

Despite NICE guidelines recommending cCBT as a treatment for depression, the study authors said the ‘routine promotion and commissioning of cCBT’ should be reconsidered in light of the study results.

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