Online CBT Treatment Plans Show Promise
6/5/2009 7:46:44 PM
Clinical support for online treatment models takes a step forward with a
new and encouraging study
on the effectiveness of online cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) treatments for chronic insomnia. Previous studies noted CBT's considerable success rates in treating insomnia, but this report marks the first clinical trial for web-based treatment plans.
The Canadian study
examined the cases of 118 volunteers suffering from chronic insomnia who'd either responded to newspaper ads or received physician referrals; subjects were randomly assigned to groups where they either participated in the treatment plan or joined a "waiting list" to serve as a control group. Researchers' conclusions relied on survey data drawn from 37 test subjects over a five-week treatment period. Unlike the subjects of most CBT studies, participants in this project did not interact with any personal therapists, receiving their treatment in a web-based audio/visual format. Their regular computer sessions consisted of video sleep tips, relaxation training mp3s and PDF files designed to provide "psychoeducation" on the science of sleep while debunking common sleep myths. Subjects perused the material at their own leisure rather than attending regularly scheduled appointments or online video conferences.
The study was small and brief but its numbers warrant greater attention: researchers noted an impressive success rate with 80% of subjects reporting at least minor symptomatic improvement. The vast majority of subjects finished the study with less severe symptoms, a better understanding of complimentary behavioral rituals and, most importantly, a better night's sleep on average. 35% of the test group noted significant improvements and 30% reported sleeping an additional hour each night.
Chronic insomnia is a serious condition that can sap one's energy as a sleep deficit builds each night, interfering with efficiency at work and various daily tasks. The fact that a completely hands-off, in-home treatment approach could produce such positive results is an encouraging sign not only for this form of therapy but for a general, industry-wide trend toward digital and, in some cases, web-based treatment models. The day when all subjects who suffer from such chronic conditions can begin their treatment programs at the touch of a mouse key may not be so far away.
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