The clinical benefit for depression of an interactive computer-assisted cognitive-behavioral program on CD-ROM, the Wellness Workshop (WW), was evaluated in a randomized controlled trial.
A total of 191 individuals referred by primary-care physicians were randomly assigned to a control group, where physician-directed treatment as usual (TAU) was provided, or to a treatment group, where TAU was supplemented with the WW CD-ROM, delivered by mail (WW+TAU). Data were collected at baseline, at 6 weeks' post-intervention, and at a 6-month follow-up assessment. Participants were given a strong incentive by a reimbursement of $75 for completion of each assessment. Measures included symptom ratings obtained via structured clinical diagnostic interviews, as well as a battery of self-report questionnaires on symptoms specifically targeted by the intervention.
Analysis of results demonstrated evidence for skill acquisition for improving dysfunctional thinking and reducing anxiety. Among those who met diagnostic criteria for depression, WW+TAU participants were three times more likely to remit at 6 weeks' post-test than TAU participants.
The evidence supports the conclusion that the WW intervention added benefit to traditional care for depression. No placebo comparison group was included and the WW+TAU participants received slightly more attention (a supportive telephone contact, ⩽5 min from a psychologist 2 weeks after receiving the program). Overall, the findings add support to the accumulating evidence for the potential clinical benefit of computer-assisted behavioral health interventions.
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