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Computerised cognitive-behavioural therapy (CCBT) helps improve mental health outcomes in White populations. However, no studies have examined whether CCBT is acceptable and beneficial for African Americans.
We studied differences in CCBT use and self-reported change in depression and anxiety symptoms among 91 African Americans and 499 White primary care patients aged 18–75, enrolled in a randomised clinical trial of collaborative care embedded with an online treatment for depression and anxiety.
Patients with moderate levels of mood and/or anxiety symptoms (PHQ-9 or GAD-7≥10) were randomised to receive either care-manager-guided access to the proven-effective Beating the Blues® CCBT programme or usual care from their primary care doctor.
Compared with White participants, African Americans were less likely to start the CCBT programme (P=0.01), and those who did completed fewer sessions and were less likely to complete the full programme (P=0.03). Despite lower engagement, however, African Americans who started the CCBT programme experienced a greater decrease in self-reported depressive symptoms (estimated 8-session change: −6.6 v. −5.5; P=0.06) and similar decrease in anxiety symptoms (−5.3 v. −5.6; P=0.80) compared with White participants.
CCBT may be an efficient and scalable first-step to improving minority mental health and reducing disparities in access to evidence-based healthcare.