A Smartphone App for Major Depression Reduces Treatment Time by Half

Swedish researchers from Linkoping University and Stockholm University looked at whether a blended treatment, with four face-to-face sessions and a smartphone application, could deliver comparable results to a full, 10-session course of behavioral treatment for people suffering from major depression.

The randomized, controlled non-inferiority trial compared a blended treatment (n=46) to a full ten-session treatment (n=47) with people suffering from major depression. The primary outcome measure was the BDI-II, administered at pre- and post-treatment, as well as six months post-treatment.

Results showed significant improvements in both groups across time on the primary outcome measure At the same time, the blended treatment reduced the therapist's time by an average of 47%.

Although the investigators could not definitively establish whether the blended treatment was non-inferior to a full behavioral treatment approach, this study shows that the blended treatment approach could possibly treat nearly twice as many patients suffering from depression, by using a smartphone application as an add-on to a treatment protocol. More studies are needed to demonstrate that the blended treatment method is a promising cost-effective alternative to regular face-to-face treatment for major depression.

Citation: Ly KH1, Topooco N1, Cederlund H1, Wallin A1, Bergström J2, Molander O3, Carlbring P2, Andersson G4. Smartphone-Supported versus Full Behavioural Activation for Depression: A Randomised Controlled Trial. PLoS One. 2015 May 26;10(5):e0126559. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0126559. eCollection 2015.

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