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Excessive worry is a common phenomenon. Our research group has previously developed an online intervention for excessive worry based on operant principles of extinction (IbET; internet-based extinction therapy) and tested it against a waiting-list. The aim of this study was to evaluate IbET against an active control comparator (CTRL).
A 10-week parallel participant blind randomised controlled trial with health-economical evaluation and mediation analyses. Participants (N = 311) were randomised (ratio 4.5:4.5:1) to IbET, to CTRL (an internet-based stress-management training program) or to waiting-list. The nation-wide trial included self-referred adults with excessive worry. The primary outcome was change in worry assessed with the Penn State Worry Questionnaire from baseline to 10 weeks.
IbET had greater reductions in worry compared to CTRL [−3.6 point difference, (95% CI −2.4 to −4.9)] and also a significantly larger degree of treatment responders [63% v. 51%; risk ratio = 1.24 (95% CI 1.01–1.53)]. Both IbET and CTRL made large reductions in worry compared to waiting-list and effects were sustained up to 1 year. Treatment credibility, therapist attention, compliance and working alliance were equal between IbET and CTRL. Data attrition was 4% at the primary endpoint. The effects of IbET were mediated by the hypothesized causal mechanism (reduced thought suppression) but not by competing mediators. Health-economical evaluation indicated that IbET had a 99% chance of being cost-effective compared to CTRL given societal willingness to pay of 1000€.
IbET is more effective than active comparator to treat excessive worry. Replication and extensions to real-world setting are warranted.
Body dysmorphic disorder (BDD) usually begins during adolescence but little is known about the prevalence, etiology, and patterns of comorbidity in this age group. We investigated the prevalence of BDD symptoms in adolescents and young adults. We also report on the relative importance of genetic and environmental influences on BDD symptoms, and the risk for co-existing psychopathology.
Prevalence of BDD symptoms was determined by a validated cut-off on the Dysmorphic Concerns Questionnaire (DCQ) in three population-based twin cohorts at ages 15 (n = 6968), 18 (n = 3738), and 20–28 (n = 4671). Heritability analysis was performed using univariate model-fitting for the DCQ. The risk for co-existing psychopathology was expressed as odds ratios (OR).
The prevalence of clinically significant BDD symptoms was estimated to be between 1 and 2% in the different cohorts, with a significantly higher prevalence in females (1.3–3.3%) than in males (0.2–0.6%). The heritability of body dysmorphic concerns was estimated to be 49% (95% CI 38–54%) at age 15, 39% (95% CI 30–46) at age 18, and 37% (95% CI 29–42) at ages 20–28, with the remaining variance being due to non-shared environment. ORs for co-existing neuropsychiatric and alcohol-related problems ranged from 2.3 to 13.2.
Clinically significant BDD symptoms are relatively common in adolescence and young adulthood, particularly in females. The low occurrence of BDD symptoms in adolescent boys may indicate sex differences in age of onset and/or etiological mechanisms. BDD symptoms are moderately heritable in young people and associated with an increased risk for co-existing neuropsychiatric and alcohol-related problems.
Common mental disorders (CMD) cause large suffering and high societal costs. Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) can effectively treat CMD, but access to treatment is insufficient. Guided self-help (GSH) CBT, has shown effects comparable with face-to-face CBT. However, not all patients respond to GSH, and stepping up non-responders to face-to-face CBT, could yield larger response rates. The aim was to test a stepped care model for CMD in primary care by first evaluating the effects of GSH-CBT and secondly, for non-responders, evaluating the additional effect of face-to-face CBT.
Consecutive patients (N = 396) with a principal disorder of depression, anxiety, insomnia, adjustment or exhaustion disorder were included. In Step I, all patients received GSH-CBT. In Step II, non-responders were randomized to face-to-face CBT or continued GSH. The primary outcome was remission status, defined as a score below a pre-established cutoff on a validated disorder-specific scale.
After GSH-CBT in Step I, 40% of patients were in remission. After Step II, 39% of patients following face-to-face CBT were in remission compared with 19% of patients after continued GSH (p = 0.004). Using this stepped care model required less than six therapy sessions per patient and led to an overall remission rate of 63%.
Stepped care can be effective and resource-efficient to treat CMD in primary care, leading to high remission rates with limited therapist resources. Face-to-face CBT speeded up recovery compared with continued GSH. At follow-ups after 6 and 12 months, remission rates were similar in the two groups.
In DSM-5 two new diagnoses, somatic symptom disorder (SSD) and illness anxiety disorder (IAD), have replaced DSM-IV hypochondriasis. There are no previous treatment studies for these disorders. Cognitive–behavioural therapy (CBT) delivered as therapist-guided or unguided internet treatment or as unguided bibliotherapy could be used to increase treatment accessibility.
To investigate the effect of CBT delivered as guided internet treatment (ICBT), unguided internet treatment (U-ICBT) and as unguided bibliotherapy.
A randomised controlled trial (RCT) where participants (n = 132) with a diagnosis of SSD or IAD were randomised to ICBT, U-ICBT, bibliotherapy or to a control condition on a waiting list (trial registration: Clinicaltrials.gov identifier NCT01966705).
Compared with the control condition, all three treatment groups made large and significant improvements on the primary outcome Health Anxiety Inventory (between-group d at post-treatment was 0.80–1.27).
ICBT, U-ICBT and bibliotherapy can be highly effective in the treatment of SSD and IAD. This is the first study showing that these new DSM-5 disorders can be effectively treated.
Exposure-based cognitive–behavioural therapy (CBT) delivered via the internet has been shown to be effective for severe health anxiety (hypochondriasis) but has not been compared with an active, effective and credible psychological treatment, such as behavioural stress management (BSM).
To investigate two internet-delivered treatments – exposure-based CBT v. BSM – for severe health anxiety in a randomised controlled trial (trial registration: NCT01673035).
Participants (n = 158) with a principal diagnosis of severe health anxiety were allocated to 12 weeks of exposure-based CBT (n = 79) or BSM (n = 79) delivered via the internet. The Health Anxiety Inventory (HAI) was the primary outcome.
Internet-delivered exposure-based CBT led to a significantly greater improvement on the HAI compared with BSM. However, both treatment groups made large improvements on the HAI (pre-to-post-treatment Cohen's d: exposure-based CBT, 1.78; BSM, 1.22).
Exposure-based CBT delivered via the internet is an efficacious treatment for severe health anxiety.
Hypochondriasis, characterised by severe health anxiety, is a common
condition associated with functional disability. Cognitive–behavioural
therapy (CBT) is an effective but not widely disseminated treatment for
hypochondriasis. Internet-based CBT, including guidance in the form of
minimal therapist contact via email, could be a more accessible
treatment, but no study has investigated internet-based CBT for
To investigate the efficacy of internet-based CBT for
A randomised controlled superiority trial with masked assessment
comparing internet-based CBT (n = 40) over 12 weeks with
an attention control condition (n = 41) for people with
hypochondriasis. The primary outcome measure was the Health Anxiety
Inventory. This trial is registrated with ClinicalTrials.gov
Participants receiving internet-based CBT made large and superior
improvements compared with the control group on measures of health
anxiety (between-group Cohen's d range 1.52–1.62).
Internet-based CBT is an efficacious treatment for hypochondriasis that
has the potential to increase accessibility and availability of CBT for
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