There is evidence from randomized control trials that internet-based cognitive behavioral therapy (iCBT) is efficacious in the treatment of anxiety and depression, and recent research demonstrates the effectiveness of iCBT in routine clinical care. The aims of this study were to implement and evaluate a new pathway by which patients could access online treatment by completing an automated assessment, rather than seeing a specialist health professional. We compared iCBT treatment outcomes in patients who received an automated pre-treatment questionnaire assessment with patients who were assessed by a specialist psychiatrist prior to treatment. Participants were treated as part of routine clinical care and were therefore not randomized. The results showed that symptoms of anxiety and depression decreased significantly with iCBT, and that the mode of assessment did not affect outcome. That is, a pre-treatment assessment by a psychiatrist conferred no additional treatment benefits over an automated assessment. These findings suggest that iCBT is effective in routine care and may be implemented with an automated assessment. By providing wider access to evidence-based interventions and reducing waiting times, the use of iCBT within a stepped-care model is a cost-effective way to reduce the burden of disease caused by these common mental disorders.
- Cognitive behavioral therapy