Blended therapy: A computer-supported psychoeducational group intervention for adults with depressive symptoms

Blended interventions aim to capitalise on the strengths of both computer-based and face-to-face therapy. Studies on this innovative treatment format remain scare. This especially accounts for the group treatment of depression.

In the present study, that was just published, we applied eclectic psychotherapy methods to an adult sample exhibiting a variety of depressive symptoms (N = 46). Participants were recruited by a newspaper inlet and randomised either to a treatment or a waiting list condition. Computer supported components were multimedia group sessions, e-learning, online videos and worksheets, remote therapist-patient communication and online pre-post-assessment.

Large between-group effect sizes on primary outcome depressiveness (CES-D) (F (1,44) = 4.88, p = 0.032; d = 0.87) and secondary outcome personal resources (resource scales) (F (1,44) = 9.04, p = 0.004; d = 0.73 to F (1,44) = 8.82 p = 0.005, d = 1.15) were found in the intention to treat analysis (ANOVA). Subjective evaluation of the intervention revealed high treatment adherence (91%) and high perceived relevance of supportive computer and multimedia components. Participants rated computer and multimedia components comparable to treatment elements such as group interaction or specific cognitive behavioural exercises, and 25% associated the utilisation of those components with treatment success. Depressiveness and age did not predict the utilisation and the appraisal of computer and multimedia components.

Results provide preliminary support for the acceptability and feasibility of the investigated blended treatment in a group with non-specific depressive symptoms. However, small sample size and lack of diagnostics restrict generalizability. Additional research in clinical settings is needed.

Read the full paper (open access):
Schuster, R., Leitner, I., Carlbring, P., & Laireiter, A.-R. (2017). Exploring blended group interventions for depression: Randomised controlled feasibility study of a blended computer- and multimedia-supported psychoeducational group intervention for adults with depressive symptoms. Internet Interventions, 8, 63-71. doi:10.1016/j.invent.2017.04.