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Evaluating the Use of a Computerized CBT Program for Outpatients on a Waitlist in a University CBT Unit


Journal of Psychiatric Practice®: July 2019 - Volume 25 - Issue 4 - p 268–278
doi: 10.1097/PRA.0000000000000396

Objectives and Design: The goal of this pilot randomized controlled trial was to determine whether a computerized cognitive-behavioral therapy (cCBT) program for depression and anxiety could reduce symptoms in outpatients on a waitlist for face-to-face CBT for a variety of mental health complaints.

Methods: Sixty-seven outpatients referred for CBT for disparate problems (eg, anxiety, depression, obsessions or compulsions) were randomized to 1 of 2 conditions: (1) the cCBT program “Good Days Ahead,” which included weekly guidance and support, or (2) a control condition where patients were referred to a freely available online CBT workbook. Measures of psychological distress were administered at the start of study and at the end of the waiting period, when participants were formally diagnosed and assessed for face-to-face therapy.

Results: For the most part, mixed-design analyses of variances revealed no statistically significant changes in symptom measures over time. Nonsignificant interactions and modest effect sizes between groups across time suggest that the cCBT group did not do better than the control group. The majority of cCBT participants reported that the program was “very” or “extremely useful,” while only a portion of the control group felt the same about the workbook. There were notable differences in the completion rates of the 2 groups in favor of the cCBT program.

Conclusions: Offering a general cCBT program to waiting list patients may not confer an advantage over referring them to an online workbook, at least in terms of symptom reduction. Results could be partly explained by difficulties translating knowledge into practice, especially if participants’ main problem was not directly addressed by the intervention.

VILLEMAIRE-KRAJDEN and MYHR: Department of Psychiatry, McGill University Health Centre, Montreal, QC, Canada

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.

Please send correspondence to: Rosanne Villemaire-Krajden, MSc Psychiatry, 1025 Pine Avenue West, Montreal, QC, Canada H3A 1A1 (e-mail:

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