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An Internet-based program for depressive symptoms using human and automated support: a randomized controlled trial

Authors Mira A, Bretón-López J, García-Palacios A, Quero S, Baños RM, Botella C

Received 23 December 2016

Accepted for publication 27 January 2017

Published 31 March 2017 Volume 2017:13 Pages 987—1006


Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single anonymous peer review

Peer reviewer comments 2

Editor who approved publication: Dr Roger Pinder

Adriana Mira,1 Juana Bretón-López,1,2 Azucena García-Palacios,1,2 Soledad Quero,1,2 Rosa María Baños,2,3 Cristina Botella1,2

1Department of Basic, Clinical Psychology and Psychobiology, Labpsitec, Universitat Jaume I, Castellón de la Plana, Spain; 2CIBER of Physiopathology of Obesity and Nutrition CIBERobn, CB06/03 Instituto de Salud Carlos III, Santiago de Compostela, Spain; 3Department of Personality, Evaluation and Psychological Treatment, Universidad de Valencia, Valencia, Spain

Purpose: The purpose of this study was to analyze the efficacy of an Internet-based program for depressive symptoms using automated support by information and communication technologies (ICTs) and human support.
Patients and methods: An Internet-based program was used to teach adaptive ways to cope with depressive symptoms and daily problems. A total of 124 participants who were experiencing at least one stressful event that caused interference in their lives, many of whom had clinically significant depressive symptoms, were randomly assigned into either an intervention group with ICT support (automated mobile phone messages, automated emails, and continued feedback through the program); an intervention group with ICT support plus human support (brief weekly support phone call without clinical content); or a waiting-list control. At pre-, post-, and 12-month follow-up, they completed depression, anxiety, positive and negative effect, and perceived stress measures. Results were analyzed using both intention-to-treat and completers data. The majority were women (67.7%), with a mean age of 35.6 years (standard deviation =9.7).
The analysis showed that the two intervention groups improved significantly pre- to posttreatment, compared with the control group. Furthermore, improvements were maintained at the 12-month follow-up. Adherence and satisfaction with the program was high in both conditions.
The Internet-based program was effective and well accepted, with and without human support, showing that ICT-based automated support may be useful. It is essential to continue to study other ICT strategies for providing support.

Keywords: online intervention, types of support, depressive symptomatology, adherence, satisfaction

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