Internet and computer-based cognitive behavioral therapy for anxiety and depression in youth: a meta-analysis of randomized controlled outcome trials

D.D. Ebert, A.C. Zarski, H. Christensen, Y. Stikkelbroek, P. Cuijpers, M. Berking, H. Riper

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349 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Background: Anxiety and depression in children and adolescents are undertreated. Computer- and Internet-based cognitive behavioral treatments (cCBT) may be an attractive treatment alternative to regular face-to-face treatment. This meta-analysis aims to evaluate whether cCBT is effective for treating symptoms of anxiety and depression in youth. Methods and Findings: We conducted systematic searches in bibliographical databases (Pubmed, Cochrane controlled trial register, PsychInfo) up to December 4, 2013. Only randomized controlled trials in which a computer-, Internet- or mobile-based cognitive behavioral intervention targeting either depression, anxiety or both in children or adolescents up to the age of 25 were compared to a control condition were selected. We employed a random-effects pooling model in overall effect analyses and a mixed effect model for sub-group analyses. Searches resulted in identifying 13 randomized trials, including 796 children and adolescents that met inclusion criteria. Seven studies were directed at treating anxiety, four studies at depression, and two were of a transdiagnostic nature, targeting both anxiety and depression. The overall mean effect size (Hedges ' g) of cCBT on symptoms of anxiety or depression at post-test was g=0.72 (95% CI:0.55-0.90, numbers needed to be treated (NNT)=2.56). Heterogeneity was low (I
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0119895
JournalPLOS ONE
Volume10
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2015

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