Computerized cognitive behaviour therapy for depression in people with a chronic physical illness

John Sharp, Deirdre Holly, Niall Broomfield

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


PURPOSE: Computerized cognitive behaviour therapy (cCBT) is becoming an increasingly well-recognized therapeutic option for the treatment of depression. With acknowledged high prevalence of depression within chronic physical ill-health populations and a need to increase access to psychological therapies, cCBT represents a low-intensity intervention with the potential to have great utility within health care settings.

METHODS: This article systematically reviews the evidence for the effectiveness of cCBT for the treatment of depression with people who have a chronic physical health problem. A comprehensive search was conducted to identify relevant randomized, controlled trials. Identified studies were quality-assessed, and data were extracted by two reviewers.

RESULTS: One study investigating cCBT for the treatment of depression in people with diabetes fulfilled inclusion criteria. The trial reported positive outcomes compared to a waiting-list control condition.

CONCLUSIONS: The available literature suggests cCBT programmes may be beneficial for populations with a chronic physical illness experiencing depression. This conclusion is based on the findings of a single study, which involved the evaluation of a cCBT package by its developers, included a short follow-up and featured specialist health care support. Additionally, the study reported considerable attrition suggesting the intervention might not have been acceptable to many participants. It is likely that cCBT may be a way in which to increase access to psychological therapies. However, prior to any definitive conclusions being made, further high-quality research to establish the acceptability, feasibility, efficacy, and effectiveness of cCBT for specific chronic physical health conditions is required.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)729-744
Number of pages16
JournalBritish Journal of Health Psychology
Issue number4
Early online date12 Dec 2012
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2013


  • Chronic Disease/psychology
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy/methods
  • Depressive Disorder/psychology
  • Humans
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
  • Therapy, Computer-Assisted/methods
  • Treatment Outcome

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