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PLoS One. 2013 Aug 21;8(8):e70086. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0070086. eCollection 2013.

A randomized controlled trial evaluating a manualized TeleCoaching protocol for improving adherence to a web-based intervention for the treatment of depression.

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Center for Behavioral Intervention Technologies, Department of Preventive Medicine, Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, Chicago, Illinois, United States of America.



Web-based interventions for depression that are supported by coaching have generally produced larger effect-sizes, relative to standalone web-based interventions. This is likely due to the effect of coaching on adherence. We evaluated the efficacy of a manualized telephone coaching intervention (TeleCoach) aimed at improving adherence to a web-based intervention (moodManager), as well as the relationship between adherence and depressive symptom outcomes.


101 patients with MDD, recruited from primary care, were randomized to 12 weeks moodManager+TeleCoach, 12 weeks of self-directed moodManager, or 6 weeks of a waitlist control (WLC). Depressive symptom severity was measured using the PHQ-9.


TeleCoach+moodManager, compared to self-directed moodManager, resulted in significantly greater numbers of login days (p = 0.01), greater time until last use (p = 0.007), greater use of lessons (p = 0.03), greater variety of interactive tools used (p = 0.02), but total instances of tool use did not reach statistical significance. (p = 0.07). TeleCoach+moodManager produced significantly lower PHQ-9 scores relative to WLC at week 6 (p = 0.04), but there were no other significant differences in PHQ-9 scores at weeks 6 or 12 (ps>0.20) across treatment arms. Baseline PHQ-9 scores were no significantly related to adherence to moodManager.


TeleCoach produced significantly greater adherence to moodManager, relative to self-directed moodManager. TeleCoached moodManager produced greater reductions in depressive symptoms relative to WLC, however, there were no statistically significant differences relative to self-directed moodManager. While greater use was associated with better outcomes, most users in both TeleCoach and self-directed moodManager had dropped out of treatment by week 12. Even with telephone coaching, adherence to web-based interventions for depression remains a challenge. Methods of improving coaching models are discussed.


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