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Is guided self-help as effective as face-to-face psychotherapy for depression and anxiety disorders? A systematic review and meta-analysis of comparative outcome studies

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  21 April 2010

P. Cuijpers
Affiliation:
Department of Clinical Psychology, VU University Amsterdam, The Netherlands EMGO Institute for Health and Care Research, VU University Amsterdam and VU University Medical Center, The Netherlands
T. Donker
Affiliation:
Department of Clinical Psychology, VU University Amsterdam, The Netherlands EMGO Institute for Health and Care Research, VU University Amsterdam and VU University Medical Center, The Netherlands
A. van Straten
Affiliation:
Department of Clinical Psychology, VU University Amsterdam, The Netherlands EMGO Institute for Health and Care Research, VU University Amsterdam and VU University Medical Center, The Netherlands
J. Li
Affiliation:
Institute of Psychology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, People's Republic of China
G. Andersson
Affiliation:
Department of Behavioural Sciences and Learning, Swedish Institute for Disability Research, Linköping University, Sweden Department of Clinical Neuroscience, Psychiatry Section, Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden
Corresponding
E-mail address:

Abstract

Background

Although guided self-help for depression and anxiety disorders has been examined in many studies, it is not clear whether it is equally effective as face-to-face treatments.

Method

We conducted a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials in which the effects of guided self-help on depression and anxiety were compared directly with face-to-face psychotherapies for depression and anxiety disorders. A systematic search in bibliographical databases (PubMed, PsycINFO, EMBASE, Cochrane) resulted in 21 studies with 810 participants.

Results

The overall effect size indicating the difference between guided self-help and face-to-face psychotherapy at post-test was d=−0.02, in favour of guided self-help. At follow-up (up to 1 year) no significant difference was found either. No significant difference was found between the drop-out rates in the two treatments formats.

Conclusions

It seems safe to conclude that guided self-help and face-to-face treatments can have comparable effects. It is time to start thinking about implementation in routine care.

Type
Review Article
Copyright
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2010

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Is guided self-help as effective as face-to-face psychotherapy for depression and anxiety disorders? A systematic review and meta-analysis of comparative outcome studies
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