Depressed Employees Accept Online Treatment by Moodgym at Work

Researchers from the University of Nottingham in the United Kingdom investigated end users' views of two online approaches to self-help for depression: computerized cognitive behavior therapy (cCBT) and informational websites, in a workplace context.

Computerized CBT offers an inexpensive and accessible alternative to face-to-face therapy, and employers have an interest in reducing the working time lost to depression or stress.

Yet little is known about how employees, who have actual experience of using online approaches, judge the intervention as a process.

The qualitative data reported here were collected within an online randomized controlled trial whose participants had diagnosable depression. The experimental intervention was a 5-week cCBT program called MoodGYM (very popular in Australia).

The control condition was five informational websites about mental health.

Data were collected via online questionnaires. There was no evidence of the superiority of either in terms of treatment outcomes. In parallel, using brief rating scales and open-ended questions designed for this purpose, the researchers examined the relative acceptability of each approach over time, including perceptions of cCBT compared to seeing a health care professional.

At least 60% of participants held online therapy to be at least as acceptable as seeing a professional about mental health issues, and they were more likely to retain this opinion over time if they used the interactive program, MoodGYM, rather than informational websites alone.

Barriers to cCBT were explored to help with the creation of new strategies to improve the experience and increase engagement.

The study concluded that, as first-aid for mild to moderate mental health problems, evidence-based computerized approaches have broad acceptability.

The findings have implications for occupational health providers and others addressing the needs of working-age adults with depression.

Citation: Schneider J1, Sarrami Foroushani P, Grime P, Thornicroft G.Acceptability of online self-help to people with depression: users' views of MoodGYM versus informational websites. Journal of Medical Internet Research. 2014 Mar 28;16 (3):e90. doi: 10.2196/jmir.2871. [email protected].