Usage Intensity of a Relapse Prevention Program and Its Relation to Symptom Severity in Remitted Patients With Anxiety and Depression: Pre-Post Study

Esther Krijnen-de Bruin, Anna Dt Muntingh, Evelien M Bourguignon, Adriaan Hoogendoorn, Otto R Maarsingh, Anton Jlm van Balkom, Neeltje M Batelaan, Annemieke van Straten, Berno van Meijel

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Background: Given that relapse is common in patients in remission from anxiety and depressive disorders, relapse prevention is needed in the maintenance phase. Although existing psychological relapse prevention interventions have proven to be effective, they are not explicitly based on patients' preferences. Hence, we developed a blended relapse prevention program based on patients' preferences, which was delivered in primary care practices by mental health professionals (MHPs). This program comprises contact with MHPs, completion of core and optional online modules (including a relapse prevention plan), and keeping a mood and anxiety diary in which patients can monitor their symptoms. Objective: The aims of this study were to provide insight into (1) usage intensity of the program (over time), (2) the course of symptoms during the 9 months of the study, and (3) the association between usage intensity and the course of symptoms. Methods: The Guided E-healTh for RElapse prevention in Anxiety and Depression (GET READY) program was guided by 54 MHPs working in primary care practices. Patients in remission from anxiety and depressive disorders were included. Demographic and clinical characteristics, including anxiety and depressive symptoms, were collected via questionnaires at baseline and after 3, 6, and 9 months. Log data were collected to assess the usage intensity of the program. Results: A total of 113 patients participated in the study. Twenty-seven patients (23.9%) met the criteria for the minimal usage intensity measure. The core modules were used by ≥70% of the patients, while the optional modules were used by 40% of the patients. Usage decreased quickly over time. Anxiety and depressive symptoms remained stable across the total sample; a minority of 15% (12/79) of patients experienced a relapse in their anxiety symptoms, while 10% (8/79) experienced a relapse in their depressive symptoms. Generalized estimating equations analysis indicated a significant association between more frequent face-to-face contact with the MHPs and an increase in both anxiety symptoms (=.84, 95% CI .39-1.29) and depressive symptoms (=1.12, 95% CI 0.45-1.79). Diary entries and the number of completed modules were not significantly associated with the course of symptoms. Conclusions: Although the core modules of the GET READY program were used by most of the patients and all patients saw an MHP at least once, usage decreased quickly over time. Most patients remained stable while participating in the study. The significant association between the frequency of contact and the course of symptoms most likely indicates that those who received more support had more symptoms, and thus, it is questionable whether the support offered by the program was sufficient to prevent these patients from relapsing.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere25441
Pages (from-to)e25441
JournalJMIR Mental Health
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 16 Mar 2022


  • anxiety disorder
  • depressive disorder
  • eHealth
  • mobile phone
  • primary care practice
  • relapse prevention
  • self-management
  • usage intensity

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