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NHS review questions evidence for computerised CBT

Using computers as a substitute for human therapists in treating depression and anxiety may not be feasible after all, a new analysis warns.

The NHS Health Technology Assessment questions the evidence that led NICE to recommend funding of computerised cognitive behavioural therapy.

The assessment concludes there are 'substantial uncertainties' over the likely usefulness of products such as Beating the Blues and FearFighter for NHS organisations.

And the document, which will be circulated to PCTs, adds: 'This is in addition to concerns over the quality of evidence on response to therapy, longer term outcomes and quality of life.'

Study leader Dr Eva Kalten-thaler, managing director of the ScHARR Technology Assessment Group at the University of Sheffield, said it was 'too early to say' whether computerised CBT could relieve pressure on stretched therapy services.

She said: 'In general, there

is considerable uncertainty around key variables such as take-up rates – although Beating the Blues has less uncertainty than other products.'

She added: 'The evidence in trials is for 12 months at most' and called for further research on computerised CBT.

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