Patient and Therapist Expectations for a Blended Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Program for Depression: Qualitative Exploratory Study

JMIR Ment Health. 2022 Dec 30;9(12):e36806. doi: 10.2196/36806.


BACKGROUND: Blended cognitive behavioral therapy (bCBT)-the combination of digital elements and face-to-face psychotherapy-has been proposed to alleviate challenges that patients and therapists face in conventional cognitive behavioral therapy. There is growing evidence that adding digital elements to face-to-face psychotherapy can contribute to better treatment outcomes. However, bCBT programs still show considerable shortcomings, and knowledge on how to improve digital apps using a bCBT protocol is limited.

OBJECTIVE: This study aimed to inductively identify functions and qualities that are expected from a bCBT treatment for depression in the eyes of patients and psychotherapists who were not currently receiving or practicing bCBT treatment.

METHODS: We used a qualitative exploratory study design and conducted 3 focus group interviews (n=6 in each) and 5 semistructured in-depth interviews with therapists as well as 11 individual interviews with patients with a primary diagnosis of depression and currently undergoing cognitive behavioral therapy treatment in Germany. Themes and categories were established inductively from transcribed interview records based on a rigorous coding method.

RESULTS: Both therapists and patients expected a digital app to provide patients with the opportunity to track their mood, work on therapeutic homework activities, easily access an intervention set for harder moments, and efficiently facilitate administrative tasks. The desire to be able to customize bCBT protocols to individual patient circumstances was evident in both patient and therapist interviews. Patients differed with respect to what content and the amount of material the app should focus on as well as the method of recording experiences. Therapists viewed digital apps as potentially aiding in their documentation work outside of sessions. Different attitudes surfaced on the topic of data security, with patients not as concerned as therapists.

CONCLUSIONS: Both patients and therapists had substantially positive attitudes toward the option of an integrated bCBT treatment. Our study presents novel findings on the expectations and attitudes of patients and therapists.

PMID:36583934 | DOI:10.2196/36806

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