Effects of Internet-Based Cognitive Behavioral Therapy in Routine Care for Adults in Treatment for Depression and Anxiety: Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis

Anne Etzelmueller, Christiaan Vis, Eirini Karyotaki, Harald Baumeister, Nickolai Titov, Matthias Berking, Pim Cuijpers, Heleen Riper, David Daniel Ebert

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articleAcademicpeer-review


BACKGROUND: Although there is evidence for the efficacy of internet-based cognitive behavioral therapy (iCBT), the generalizability of results to routine care is limited. OBJECTIVE: This study systematically reviews effectiveness studies of guided iCBT interventions for the treatment of depression or anxiety. METHODS: The acceptability (uptake, participants' characteristics, adherence, and satisfaction), effectiveness, and negative effects (deterioration) of nonrandomized pre-post designs conducted under routine care conditions were synthesized using systematic review and meta-analytic approaches. RESULTS: A total of 19 studies including 30 groups were included in the analysis. Despite high heterogeneity, individual effect sizes of investigated studies indicate clinically relevant changes, with effect sizes ranging from Hedges' g=0.42-1.88, with a pooled effect of 1.78 for depression and 0.94 for anxiety studies. Uptake, participants' characteristics, adherence, and satisfaction indicate a moderate to high acceptability of the interventions. The average deterioration across studies was 2.9%. CONCLUSIONS: This study provides evidence supporting the acceptability and effectiveness of guided iCBT for the treatment of depression and anxiety in routine care. Given the high heterogeneity between interventions and contexts, health care providers should select interventions that have been proven in randomized controlled clinical trials. The successful application of iCBT may be an effective way of increasing health care in multiple contexts.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere18100
Pages (from-to)e18100
JournalJournal of Medical Internet Research
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 31 Aug 2020

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