Depression: Internet counseling significantly improves the success of therapy

Depression: Internet counseling significantly improves the success of therapy

Internet counseling for depression is a useful addition to the therapy
In the event of depression, the accompanying internet consultation can significantly improve the success of treatment, according to the result of a pilot project by the Techniker Krankenkasse (TK) and the Free University of Berlin. The electronic exchange with the therapists improves the effectiveness of the treatment. Mild to moderate depression could be combated effectively with the help of internet advice, reports the TK.

The pilot project of the TK and the Free University of Berlin made it clear that the treatment of depression can be significantly improved with an internet-based counseling program. Measured against the so-called Beck Depression Inventory II (BDI II), the condition of the participants had developed extremely positively through the internet advice, according to the Techniker Krankenkasse. The online consultation is a good addition to classic outpatient behavioral therapy.

Subjects go through a six-week treatment program
A total of 1,000 people took part in the pilot project (TK Depression Coach). They went through "a structured task program within six weeks, completed intensive writing tasks and completed multimedia audio and video training courses," reports the TK. In addition, some of the patients received weekly written feedback from a specially trained therapist, while the subjects in the second group completed an automated variant of the program without individual written feedback.

Better treatment results when communicating online with therapists
Based on the interim results of the evaluation, it becomes clear that the written feedback from the therapists has a significant influence on the success of the treatment, explains the psychologist and study leader Professor Dr. Christine Knaevelsrud in the TK press release. "The depression improved in both groups, but the written exchange with the therapists leads to significantly better results than the automated variant," emphasizes the professor. In addition, 84 percent of the subjects would have held the program to the end with accompanying internet advice, while only 76 percent of the participants had completed the full program with the automated variant. In terms of satisfaction (89 percent versus 79 percent) and in terms of a possible recommendation (81 percent versus 70 percent), the supervised variant of the depression coach was more convincing than the fully automated version.

Optimal addition to outpatient behavioral therapy
The measurement using the Beck Depression Inventory II showed a drop from 21.98 to 9.98 points in the internet consultation, which means that “the depression has improved on average from a moderately severe clinical picture to a value that is no longer clinically significant,” reports the head of the TK Supply Management Klaus Rupp. The success of treatment is therefore comparable to that of outpatient treatment for behavioral therapists. The Depression Coach could be the ideal complement to classic outpatient behavior therapy. Because especially at the beginning of a depression, many people would avoid personal contact with a therapist and would rather use such a low-threshold offer. The depression coach is also quick and easy to access, even in regions with a thin range of therapies. In addition, the participants would have to become active themselves and deal with their depression continuously, which would bring advantages in terms of successful treatment. (fp)

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