Our Online Treatments for Mood and Anxiety Disorders in Primary Care Trial, funded by the National Institute of Mental Health, enrolled 704 depressed and anxious patients from 26 primary care offices across western Pennsylvania.
Patients 18 to 75 years old were referred into the trial by their primary care physician between August 2012 and September 2014. Eligible and consenting patients were then randomized to one of three groups: care manager-guided access to the eight-session Beating the Blues computerized cognitive behavioral therapy (CCBT) program; care manager-guided access to both the CCBT program and a password-protected Internet Support Group (ISG) patients could access 24/7 via smartphone or desktop computer; or usual behavioral health care from their primary care physician.
Over the 6-month intervention, 83% of patients randomized to CCBT started the program, and they completed an average of 5.3 sessions; 77% of patients assigned to the ISG logged into the site at least once, and 46% provided one or more posts or comments.
Six months later, those patients with access to CCBT reported significant improvements in their mood and anxiety symptoms and the more CCBT sessions patients completed, the greater was the improvement in mood and anxiety symptoms.
Although patients with access to both CCBT and ISG had similar overall improvements in mood and anxiety symptoms, patients who engaged more with the ISG tended to experience greater improvements in symptoms.