Depression is one of the most common and serious diseases of our time. Currently, about four million people in Germany suffer from the symptoms, but only a few receive effective treatment.
Internet-based forms of treatment can be a possible supplement to classic therapy concepts. These promise a lower uptake threshold, reduced waiting times and help independent of time and place. Numerous studies show that these forms of treatment can be successful in depression. However, not all patients are interested in and/or suitable for a purely internet-supported treatment. Combined procedures that combine psychotherapy on site and internet-supported treatment elements could use the advantages of both approaches and be a promising supplement to classic forms of therapy.
Against this background, the Chair of Clinical Psychology and Psychotherapy of the FAU is investigating the effectiveness of such a combined depression treatment (online lessons on website, smartphone app, personal therapy conversations on site in Erlangen).
Recruitment in general practitioners’ practices within the RCT study took place from February 2015 to August 2016. We are currently not enrolling any more patients in the study. The treatment phase of “Moodbuster” will be completed in early 2017 for the last patient enrolled.
E-COMPARED (European-COMPARative Effectiveness research on online depression) is an interdisciplinary project involving specialists from the fields of psychology, health technology, communication and information technology and health care. The original project period from 01.01.2014 to 31.12.2016 has been extended by another 6 months until 30.06.2017. The project compares the standard treatment of depression in eight European countries with a combination of personal (face-to-face) and web- or mobile-based therapy.
The evaluation will use randomized controlled trials (RCT), advanced ICT (information and communication technology) platforms, technological intelligence and an economic prediction model to investigate which form of treatment is more effective, for which patient group and under which conditions. In Germany, the evaluation study was implemented in primary health care and thus in the setting of the outpatient treatment of depressive patients in GP practice. For this purpose, close cooperation with GP practices in the Erlangen-Nuremberg-Fürth metropolitan region took place.
Cooperating GP practices in the metropolitan region Erlangen-Nuremberg-Fürth
We would like to thank the GP practices who, as cooperation partners, have been able to support the study and win over their affected patients to participate in the study on the treatment of depressive symptoms. Flyers and posters for the waiting room and the personal doctor-patient consultation were made available to the GPs for the recruitment of patients in the GP practices. The time spent by the general practitioners involved in the study was to be a maximum of 30-60 minutes per patient and was compensated. By participating in the study, family doctors’ practices are making an important contribution to the further development of depression treatment in Germany. In addition, their patients benefited from a prompt start of treatment; i.e. therapy places were available without waiting time. An overview of the cooperating GP practices can be found here.
The research project for depressive patients in family practice
Patients affected by depressive symptoms could contact their own family doctor’s practice, as any family doctor’s practice could start a cooperation with us at any time. By answering a health questionnaire (by post or online) patients registered with us and subsequently received further information.
Conditions of participation
Patients who were at least 18 years old and were not undergoing any current psychotherapeutic treatment by psychologists or doctors were eligible to participate in the study. Previous therapeutic experience or an existing or concurrent drug treatment was allowed. Another prerequisite for participation was the diagnosis of major depression (mild, moderate or severe; also chronic courses or relapses). Patients with the diagnosis of a minor depression were referred to a depression prevention study by us. The diagnosis was carried out by our test directors (telephone interview).
In order to participate in our study, the treating family doctor’s practice had to already be a cooperation partner of ours or show willingness to become one. In order to participate in the internet-supported therapy modules, a computer with internet access was necessary.
The project was awarded the Erlanger Medizinpreis in 2017.