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Online interventions for anxiety disorders

Christensen, Helena; Batterham, Philipb; Calear, Alisonb

Current Opinion in Psychiatry: January 2014 - Volume 27 - Issue 1 - p 7–13
doi: 10.1097/YCO.0000000000000019
MOOD AND ANXIETY DISORDERS: Edited by Cornelius Katona and Gordon Parker

Purpose of review The present article updates knowledge regarding the evidence base for online interventions for anxiety disorders, and provides an overview of recent advances in online interventions for anxiety over the past 18 months.

Recent findings Computerized self-help is an effective strategy for providing evidence-based treatments for symptoms of anxiety and depression. Online delivery has numerous advantages for clinicians and patients, including greater accessibility, anonymity, convenience and cost-effectiveness. These may be particularly important for populations experiencing anxiety, which may face more pronounced barriers to accessing care. Recent meta-analyses have confirmed that computerized cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT) for anxiety demonstrates comparable clinical outcomes as face-to-face psychotherapy for individuals with anxiety. This review updates the status of current knowledge by providing a focused review of randomized controlled trials of computerized (including Internet and portable device-delivered) treatments for anxiety.

Summary Recent studies have confirmed the utility of computerized psychotherapy for anxiety. Future trials are required to elucidate the active constituents of effective programs, evaluate targeted approaches for specific groups, and to ascertain the optimal degree of guidance required. Clarification of these issues will assist in refining effective online programs operating within standalone virtual clinics or incorporated into clinician-supported stepped care approaches.

aBlack Dog Institute, University of New South Wales, Randwick, New South Wales

bCentre for Mental Health Research, Australian National University, Canberra, Australia

Correspondence to Professor Helen Christensen, Black Dog Institute, Hospital Road, Randwick, Sydney, NSW 2031, Australia. Tel: +61 02 9382 9285; e-mail:

© 2014 Wolters Kluwer Health | Lippincott Williams & Wilkins