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Systematic Review ARTICLE Provisionally accepted The full-text will be published soon. Notify me

Front. Psychiatry | doi: 10.3389/fpsyt.2019.00749

Response and Remission Rates in Internet-Based Cognitive Behavior Therapy: An Individual Patient Data Meta-Analysis

  • 1Linköping University, Sweden
  • 2Department of Clinical Neuroscience, Karolinska Institute, Sweden
  • 3Stockholm University, Sweden

Background: Internet-delivered cognitive behavior therapy (ICBT) was developed over 20 years ago and has since undergone a number of controlled trials, as well as several systematic reviews and meta-analyses. However, the crucial question of response rates remains to be systematically investigated. The aim of this individual patient meta-analysis (IPDMA) was to use a large dataset of trials conducted in Sweden to determine reliable change and recovery rates across trials for a range of conditions. Methods: We used previously collected and aggregated data from 2866 patients in 29 Swedish clinical trials of ICBT for three categories of conditions: anxiety disorders, depression, and other. Raw scores at pre-treatment and post-treatment were used in an IPDMA to determine the rate of reliable change and recovery. Jacobson and Truax’s (1991) reliable change index (RCI) was calculated for each primary outcome measure in the trials as well as the recovery rates for each patient, with the additional requirement of having improved substantially. We subsequently explored potential predictors using binomial logistic regression. Results: Applying an RCI of z = 1.96, 1162 (65.6%) of the patients receiving treatment were classified as achieving recovery, and 620 (35.0%) were classified as reaching remission. In terms of predictors, patients with higher symptom severity on the primary outcome measure at baseline (odds ratio [OR] = 1.36) and being female (OR = 2.22) increased the odds of responding to treatment. Having an anxiety disorder was found to decrease the response to treatment (OR = 0.51). Remission was predicted by diagnosis in the same direction (OR = 0.28), whereas symptom severity was inversely predictive of worse outcome (OR = 0.81). Conclusions: Response seems to occur among approximately half of all clients administered ICBT, whereas about a third reach remission. This indicates that the efficacy of ICBT is in line with that of CBT based on prior trials, with a possible caveat being the lower remission rates. Having more symptoms and being female might increase the chances of improvement, and a small negative effect of having anxiety disorder versus depression and other conditions may also exist.

Keywords: response rates, Recovery, Individual patient data meta-analysis, Internet-based cognitive behavior therapy, predictors

Received: 10 Jun 2019; Accepted: 18 Sep 2019.

Copyright: © 2019 Andersson, Carlbring and Rozental. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

* Correspondence: Prof. Gerhard Andersson, Linköping University, Linköping, Sweden,