Online therapy addresses depression in cardiovascular disease patients

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Cardiovascular disease (CVD) patients who underwent internet-based therapy for their depression became less depressed and gained a better quality of life, according to a new study by researchers at Linköping University and published in the journal JMIR Mental Health.

It is common for CVD patients to suffer from depression. Several previous studies have shown that internet-based cognitive behavioral therapy is effective against depression, but this study was designed specifically for CVD patients with depression.

In the randomized controlled trial, participants were randomly put into different groups, to enable comparison with each other. The participants included 144 CVD patients with depression. Of these, 72 underwent nine weeks of internet-based cognitive behavioral therapy, and during this time had access to a nurse. The remaining 72 discussed health with each other in an internet forum, for the same period.

The results show that after nine weeks of online therapy, one of five patients had a significant clinical improvement in their depression, compared to the group in the internet forum. Also, after the completed treatment, the online-therapy patients reported an increase in quality of life.

The patients who underwent online CBT had an average of 15 minutes of feedback time every week with one of the nurses; this was not available to the patients in the online forum. The feedback time enabled the patients to get answers to their questions but was also aimed at supporting and encouraging them.