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BMC Psychiatry. 2017 Mar 4;17(1):85. doi: 10.1186/s12888-017-1248-8.

Effects of five-minute internet-based cognitive behavioral therapy and simplified emotion-focused mindfulness on depressive symptoms: a randomized controlled trial.

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Department of Cognitive Behavioral Physiology, Graduate School of Medicine, Chiba University, 1-8-1 Inohana, Chuo-ku, Chiba, 260-8670, Japan.
Research Institute of Economy, Trade and Industry, 1-3-1 Kasumigaseki, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo, 100-8901, Japan.
Department of Neuropsychiatry, Keio University School of Medicine, 35 Shinanomachi, Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo, 160-8582, Japan.
Department of Psychiatric Rehabilitation, National Institute of Mental Health, National Center of Neurology and Psychiatry (NCNP), 4-1-1 Ogawa-Higashi, Kodaira, Tokyo, 187-8553, Japan.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Center, Research Center for Child Mental Development, Department of Cognitive Behavioral Physiology, Graduate School of Medicine, Chiba University, 1-8-1 Inohana, Chuo-ku, Chiba, 260-8670, Japan.



Notwithstanding a high expectation for internet-based cognitive behavioral therapy (iCBT) for reducing depressive symptoms, many of iCBT programs have limitations such as temporary effects and high drop-out rates, possibly due to their complexity. We examined the effects of a free, simplified, 5-minute iCBT program by comparing it with a simplified emotion-focused mindfulness (sEFM) exercise and with a waiting list control group.


A total of 974 participants, who were recruited using the website of a market research company, were randomly assigned to the iCBT group, the sEFM group, and the control group. Those in the intervention arms performed each exercise for 5 weeks. The primary outcome measure was the Center for Epidemiological Studies Depression scale (CES-D) at postintervention. Secondary outcome measures were the Patient Health Questionnaire-9 (PHQ-9) and the Generalized Anxiety Disorder-7 scale (GAD-7). Intention-to-treat analyses were conducted.


During postintervention assessment, there were no significant differences between the intervention arms and the control group in the CES-D, although the difference between the iCBT arm and control group was close to significance (pā€‰=ā€‰0.05) in favor of iCBT. There was a significant difference in the PHQ-9 in favor of the sEFM group compared with the control group. There were no significant differences in outcome measures between the three groups at the 6-week follow-up.


Although both iCBT and sEFM have the potential to temporarily reduce depressive symptoms, substantial improvements are required to enhance and maintain their effects.


This trial is registered with the UMIN Clinical Trial Registry (UMIN-CTR) (ID: UMIN000015097 ) on 1 October 2014.


Depression; Emotional acceptance; Five-minute internet-based cognitive behavioral therapy; Simplified emotion-focused mindfulness

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