Study: Face-to-face, digital cognitive behavioral therapy, both effective for depression

Both face-to-face and digital cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) “may be appropriate interventions for patients with more severe forms of depression,” according to a review published in npj Digital Medicine.

“Overall, our results indicate that after controlling for several potential confounders, direct and digital CBT may be equivalent in clinical efficacy for the treatment of depression. We determined identified a number of factors involved in controlling treatment response, such as duration of intervention, baseline severity, compliance, and level of human guidance in digital CBT interventions. digital,” the study noted.

Guided digital CBT is more effective than unguided digital CBT in reducing depressive symptoms and psychosocial functioning. The researchers found no superiority in compliance between guided and unguided digital CBT.

There is no distinction between face-to-face, guided digital CBT, and unguided digital CBT for anxiety symptoms.

Interestingly, the results of the study differed from previous findings. According to an initial review of the literature, face-to-face treatment appears to outperform guided digital CBT in improving depressive symptoms and psychosocial functioning, and in ensuring compliance. treatment.

After accounting for confounding factors such as depression severity and antidepressant use, the researchers said “their analyzes showed no significant difference between the direct interventions and digital, suggesting that these approaches may be more clinically effective when the moderator is taken into account.”

Results are based on a systematic literature search in the PubMed database, where researchers compared 106 studies and more than 11,000 adult patients published through January 11, 2021.

The study notes that a previous meta-analysis of the effectiveness of CBT treatment through face-to-face versus digital media only revealed small effects. However, research in npj Digital Medicine emphasizes the importance of treatment intensity.

The researchers found that a higher number of sessions was a positive predictor of success digital therapeutic intervention. In contrast, treatment intensity (number of sessions per week) shows more promise than traditional face-to-face methods.


Number of digital health platforms offering CBT or others mental health interventions has increased a lot in the past few years, especially since the pandemic began. These platforms could have many potential advantages, such as cost-effectiveness and improved access to evidence-based care, especially for those living in regional communities. remote areas.

Although some foundation has been made since its appearance COVID-19many are not regulated by the FDA, and some make claims that have not been proven by clinical research.

Studying the effectiveness of digital health tools compared to traditional face-to-face interventions is critical to ensure the safety and effectiveness of these newly minted digital models in the future. health care services.

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