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Success for online CBT

Patients with depression are more likely to recover if they have live, but online, CBT with a trained therapist than usual care, a study of UK primary care patients suggests.

It found that 38% of 113 patients who had the online CBT recovered at four months compared with 24% of 97 patients receiving usual care. There were similar significant differences at 8 months. Around half the patients were taking an antidepressant.

The study involved patients and therapists communicating remotely, by instant messaging, in up to ten 55 minute sessions. The effect was greatest in those with more severe depression at the start of the study. The patients, aged 18-75 had a newly diagnosed episode of depression, measured on the Beck depression inventory.

The researchers say online CBT could make access to psychological therapies more equitable.

Lancet 2009; 374: 628-34.

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