Effectiveness of technology-assisted vs face-to-face cognitive behavioural therapy for anxiety and depression in children and young people: A systematic review and meta-analysis

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Background: Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) has been proven to be effective for anxiety and depression in children and young people (CYP). Over the past 20 years there have been several attempts at delivering CBT through apps, online software, videogames, but also with a therapist via phone or videoconferencing platforms, with promising results for the “technology-assisted” versions. However, most research, have compared online CBT to waiting lists, and not many studies looked at the effectiveness of face-to-face (f2f) CBT versus technology-assisted CBT. Methods: Adopting the PRISMA guidelines, we evaluated 1849 citations and identified 10 eligible studies. Studies were identified through the Cumulative Index to Nursing and Allied Health Literature (CINAHL), PsycINFO, PubMed/MEDLINE, Web of Science, and Scopus. Results: Ten studies met our inclusion criteria. The studies included a variety of technology-assisted forms of CBT, including videoconferencing and online CBT. Of these, seven looked at the effectiveness of technology-assisted CBT for anxiety in CYP, and seven looked at depression. The meta-analyses had low heterogeneity and showed that technology-assisted CBT was non-inferior to f2f CBT for anxiety and depression in CYP (d = 0.06 and 0.12 respectively). Conclusions: Technology-assisted CBT may be a valid alternative for the treatment of anxiety and depression in CYP. Future studies should consider what specific delivery modalities are most cost-effective.
Original languageEnglish
JournalClinical Child Psychology and Psychiatry
Early online date13 Jun 2024
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 13 Jun 2024

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