Background: Blended care combines face-to-face treatment with web-based components in mental health care settings. Blended treatment could potentially improve active patient participation, by letting patients work though part of the protocol autonomously. Further, blended treatment might lower the costs of mental health care, by reducing treatment duration and/or therapist contact. However, knowledge on blended care for depression is still limited.
Objectives: To develop a blended cognitive behavioural treatment (bCBT) for depressed patients in an outpatient specialized mental health care centre and to conduct a preliminary evaluation of this bCBT protocol.
Method: A bCBT protocol was developed, taking recommendations into account from depressed patients (n = 3) and therapists and experts in the field of e-health (n = 18). Next, an initial evaluation of integrated high-intensive bCBT was conducted with depressed patients (n = 9) in specialized mental health care. Patients' clinical profiles were established based on pre-treatment diagnostic information and patient self-reports on clinical measures. Patient treatment adherence rates were explored, together with patient ratings of credibility and expectancy (CEQ) before treatment, and system usability (SUS) and treatment satisfaction after treatment (CSQ-8). During and after treatment, the blended treatment protocol was evaluated in supervision sessions with the participating therapists (n = 7).
Results: Seven out of nine patients started bCBT, of whom five completed ≥ 90% of treatment. System usability was evaluated as being above average (range 63 to 85), and patients were mostly to very satisfied with bCBT (range 16 to 32). Patients reported improvements in depression, health-related quality of life and anxiety. We observed that therapists evaluated the highly structured blended treatment as a helpful tool in providing evidence-based treatment to this complex patient group.
Discussion: Although no conclusions can be drawn based on the current study, our observations suggest that a blended CBT approach might shorten treatment duration and has the potential to be a valuable treatment option for patients with severe depression in specialized mental health care settings. Further exploration of the effectiveness of our bCBT protocol by means of a randomized controlled trial is warranted.