Research projects

e-couch – a tailored internet-based cognitive behaviour therapy and information program

Principal Researchers

Professor Helen Christensen

Institution

Centre for Mental Health Research, The Australian National University

Name Institutions

Funding

$133,000

Award Type

beyondblue Grant

Project completion year

2008

The project

e-couch is an interactive, online, self-help program with modules for depression, generalised anxiety and worry, social anxiety, relationship breakdown, and loss and grief.  The depression stream comprises the following component modules known to be effective for people with depression: evidence-based information about depression, with information about the effectiveness of medical, psychological and alternative therapies; cognitive behaviour therapy; interpersonal psychotherapy; physical activity; and relaxation.  This research evaluated the e-couch user database (161 users).

Key findings

Of the 161 general users, 75 per cent logged in from Australia, 9 per cent from the United States, 7 per cent from the United Kingdom and 3 per cent from Canada. 

One hundred and eleven users (69 per cent) were consumers, 14 of whom were referred to the site by a health professional.  Sixty-three per cent were female and 64 per cent were over 30 years old. Thirty-two per cent self-identified as logging in from outside a capital city (either from a non-capital city or a rural/remote region).

Fifty users (31 per cent) identified themselves as non-consumers by endorsing at least one of the following reasons for visiting the site: “I’m a health professional who treats people with depression or anxiety”; “I’m a researcher reviewing depression or anxiety sites”; or “I’m studying anxiety or depression as part of a college or university course”.

Fifty-one consumers completed the e-couch depression literacy module with pre- and post-module testing, using the Griffiths DSS-personal stigma scale.  There was a significant reduction in personal stigma scores (p = 0.0002).

Forty-nine consumers completed both the initial and post-depression literacy module depression literacy measure.  There was a significant increase in knowledge about medical treatments for depression from pre-test to post-test (p < 0.005). Moreover, there was a strong trend towards improved overall depression literacy from pre-test to post-test (p = 0.055).

Links

Further information and access to the e-couch resource is available at:

www.ecouch.anu.edu.au

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