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An online programme to reduce depression in patients with multiple sclerosis: a randomised controlled trial
Anja Fischer, Johanna Schröder, Eik Vettorazzi, Oliver T Wolf, Jana Pöttgen, et al.
The Lancet Psychiatry, Volume 2, Issue 3, March 2015, Pages 217-223
With a lifetime risk for major depressive disorder of up to 50%, depression is a common comorbidity in multiple sclerosis but remains widely underdiagnosed and untreated. We investigated the potential of a fully automated, internet-based, cognitive behavioural therapy programme, Deprexis, to reduce depressive symptoms in patients with multiple sclerosis.
For this randomised controlled trial, we recruited patients from an outpatient clinic in Hamburg, Germany. Patients aged 18–65 years were eligible for inclusion if they had multiple sclerosis and self-reported depressive symptoms. By use of a computer-generated randomisation sequence, we allocated 90 patients (1:1; no blocking or stratification) to either the intervention group or a waitlist control group for 9 weeks. The primary endpoint was the Beck Depression Inventory (BDI), as assessed by an intention-to-treat analysis. This trial is registered with ClinicalTrials.gov, number NCT01663649.
71 patients completed the trial: 35 patients in the intervention group and 36 patients in the control group. During the intervention, BDI scores decreased in the Deprexis group and increased in the control group, yielding a positive effect of Deprexis relative to the waitlist group (mean group difference −4·02 points [95% CI −7·26 to −0·79], p=0·015, effect size d=0·53). Worsening of depressive symptoms from below to above the clinical cutoff (BDI >13) occurred in three (7%) of 45 patients in the control group and no patients in the Deprexis group. We noted no adverse events with respect to new occurrence of suicidal ideation during the trial.
Psychological online-intervention programmes could be suitable for patients with multiple sclerosis who are unable to regularly attend therapeutic sessions because of mobility impairments.
European Union and the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft