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J Med Internet Res. 2015 Sep 2;17(9):e197. doi: 10.2196/jmir.4351.

Predictors of Response to Web-Based Cognitive Behavioral Therapy With High-Intensity Face-to-Face Therapist Guidance for Depression: A Bayesian Analysis.

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Department of Psychology, Faculty of Health Sciences, UiT The Arctic University of Norway, Tromsø, Norway.



Several studies have demonstrated the effect of guided Internet-based cognitive behavioral therapy (ICBT) for depression. However, ICBT is not suitable for all depressed patients and there is a considerable level of nonresponse. Research on predictors and moderators of outcome in ICBT is inconclusive.


This paper explored predictors of response to an intervention combining the Web-based program MoodGYM and face-to-face therapist guidance in a sample of primary care patients with mild to moderate depressive symptoms.


Participants (N=106) aged between 18 and 65 years were recruited from primary care and randomly allocated to a treatment condition or to a delayed treatment condition. The intervention included the Norwegian version of the MoodGYM program, face-to-face guidance from a psychologist, and reminder emails. In this paper, data from the treatment phase of the 2 groups was merged to increase the sample size (n=82). Outcome was improvement in depressive symptoms during treatment as assessed with the Beck Depression Inventory-II (BDI-II). Predictors included demographic variables, severity variables (eg, number of depressive episodes and pretreatment depression and anxiety severity), cognitive variables (eg, dysfunctional thinking), module completion, and treatment expectancy and motivation. Using Bayesian analysis, predictors of response were explored with a latent-class approach and by analyzing whether predictors affected the slope of response.


A 2-class model distinguished well between responders (74%, 61/82) and nonresponders (26%, 21/82). Our results indicate that having had more depressive episodes, being married or cohabiting, and scoring higher on a measure of life satisfaction had high odds for positively affecting the probability of response. Higher levels of dysfunctional thinking had high odds for a negative effect on the probability of responding. Prediction of the slope of response yielded largely similar results. Bayes factors indicated substantial evidence that being married or cohabiting predicted a more positive treatment response. The effects of life satisfaction and number of depressive episodes were more uncertain. There was substantial evidence that several variables were unrelated to treatment response, including gender, age, and pretreatment symptoms of depression and anxiety.


Treatment response to ICBT with face-to-face guidance may be comparable across varying levels of depressive severity and irrespective of the presence and severity of comorbid anxiety. Being married or cohabiting, reporting higher life satisfaction, and having had more depressive episodes may predict a more favorable response, whereas higher levels of dysfunctional thinking may be a predictor of poorer response. More studies exploring predictors and moderators of Internet-based treatments are needed to inform for whom this treatment is most effective.


Australian New Zealand Clinical Trials Registry number: ACTRN12610000257066; (Archived by WebCite at


Bayesian analysis; cognitive behavior therapy; computer-assisted therapy; depression; primary health care; treatment outcome

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