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Psychother Res. 2011 Mar;21(2):219-26. doi: 10.1080/10503307.2010.547530.

The effectiveness of internet chat groups in relapse prevention after inpatient psychotherapy.

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Center for Psychotherapy Research, University Hospital Heidelberg, Heidelberg, Germany.


The majority of patients benefit from psychotherapeutic treatment. However, many fail to maintain their treatment gains following discharge. In a controlled study, we investigated the effectiveness of internet chat groups in preventing relapse following inpatient treatment. One hundred and fifty-two patients were assessed with the Longitudinal Follow-up Evaluation (LIFE) 1 year after discharge from the hospital. Kaplan Meier survival analyses showed that significantly fewer chat participants (22.2%) than control participants (46.5%) experienced a relapse. Additional analyses yielded a significant difference in the relapse rates of chat and control participants depending on their utilization of outpatient treatment after discharge. The results confirm that technology-enhanced interventions are effective in maintaining treatment gains. Implications of the findings for health care provision are discussed.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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