An exploratory study of ‘blended’ cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) for patients with a panic disorder: results and patients’ experiences
background Digital technology (e-health or ‘blended’ care), combined with evidence-based face-to-face cbt, is becoming increasingly implemented into mental health care and is expected to result in improved effectiveness and efficiency.
aim To explore the feasibility of blended CBT for patients with a panic disorder.
method Nine face-to-face sessions of blended cbt (n = 18), supplemented with the digital support of a tabletcomputer and three e-mail contacts, were compared with 12 weekly sessions of regular cbt (n = 18). Primary outcomes were panic frequency and avoidance behaviour; the secondary outcome was general functioning. Patients’ experiences of the treatment were collected in the form of a structured interview.
results The effect sizes found in both the regular and the blended cbt were medium to high (Cohen’s d 0.42-1.60). In both types of treatment there was a significant reduction in patients’ symptoms. There were no big differences in patient satisfaction regarding the treatment received. The therapists registered 39 face-to-face minutes in the blended treatment but they registered in total 41 fewer face-to-face minutes; this represented a time reduction of 4%.
conclusion Blended cbt with help of a tablet computer seems to be a suitable method for treating panic disorder psychologically, although the time saved is only moderate. Much more research is needed to ascertain the feasibility and the cost effectiveness of blended cbt.