A Review Article on Internet-based Psychological Interventions in Primary Care. What is the Global Experience? How Reliable are Results from RCTs? Lessons Learned from the European, US and Australian Case Studies
In the context of the EU’s Digital Single Market (eHealth) Strategy, the deployment of digital tools for patients’ empowerment and person-centred care is of high demand and importance. Shifting from treatment to health promotion and disease prevention, a variety of internet-based cognitive behavioural therapy programmes have been proven to be effective for managing common mental health disorders in secondary care even hough the effectiveness and the clinical use of internet-based cognitive behavioural therapy programmes alone in primary care have not been approved yet. Additionally, such interventions are neither included in the international clinical guidelines for treating common mental health disorders nor regulated by Member States as a healthcare service. Despite that, the UK National Health Service and the Swedish National Board of Health and Welfare endorse the use of internet-based cognitive behavioural therapy as a first treatment option. The aim of this research is to investigate the global experience of internet-based cognitive behavioural therapy programmes in controlled and real-life conditions in general practice and to evaluate the reliability of the results and concomitantly their compliance with the European Commission’s eHealth Strategy. A systematic review of quantitative studies was conducted from January 2007 to December 2017. The results indicated that unsupported internet-based cognitive behavioural therapy programmes alone are less effective than combined therapy options for treatment purposes, if no additional therapy is prescribed. Guided internet-based cognitive behavioural therapy may supplement traditional treatment methods resulting in improving the control of mental disorders, but are unable to demonstrate consistent quality or replace face-to-face therapy.
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