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BJPsych Open. 2017 Sep 25;3(5):228-235. doi: 10.1192/bjpo.bp.117.005231. eCollection 2017 Sep.

Trajectories of change and long-term outcomes in a randomised controlled trial of internet-based insomnia treatment to prevent depression.

Author information

, PhD, Centre for Mental Health Research, Research School of Population Health, The Australian National University, Canberra, ACT, Australia.
, PhD, Black Dog Institute, University of New South Wales, Sydney, NSW, Australia.
, BSc (Hons), Centre for Mental Health Research, Research School of Population Health, The Australian National University, Canberra, ACT, Australia.
, PhD, BeHealth Solutions, Charlottesville, VA, USA.
, PhD, Behavioural Health and Technology Lab, Department of Psychiatry and Neurobehavioural Sciences, School of Medicine, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA, USA.
, PhD, Brain and Mind Centre, University of Sydney, Sydney, NSW, Australia.
, PhD, Research School of Psychology, The Australian National University, Canberra, ACT, Australia.



Insomnia treatment using an internet-based cognitive-behavioural therapy for insomnia (CBT-I) program reduces depression symptoms, anxiety symptoms and suicidal ideation. However, the speed, longevity and consistency of these effects are unknown.


To test the following: whether the efficacy of online CBT-I was sustained over 18 months; how rapidly the effects of CBT-I emerged; evidence for distinct trajectories of change in depressive symptoms; and predictors of these trajectories.


A randomised controlled trial compared the 6-week Sleep Healthy Using the Internet (SHUTi) CBT-I program to an attention control program. Adults (N=1149) with clinical insomnia and subclinical depression symptoms were recruited online from the Australian community.


Depression, anxiety and insomnia decreased significantly by week 4 of the intervention period and remained significantly lower relative to control for >18 months (between-group Cohen's d=0.63, 0.47, 0.55, respectively, at 18 months). Effects on suicidal ideation were only short term. Two depression trajectories were identified using growth mixture models: improving (95%) and stable/deteriorating (5%) symptoms. More severe baseline depression, younger age and limited comfort with the internet were associated with reduced odds of improvement.


Online CBT-I produced rapid and long-term symptom reduction in people with subclinical depressive symptoms, although the initial effect on suicidal ideation was not sustained.


P.J.B. has received grants from the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) during the conduct of the study. H.C. has received grants from the NHMRC and the Australian Research Council during the conduct of the study. L.M.R. receives research funding from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) that, in part, focuses on insomnia. F.P.T. and L.M.R. have equity ownership in BeHealth Solutions (Charlottesville, VA, USA), a company that develops and makes available products related to the research reported in this manuscript. BeHealth Solutions has licensed the SHUTi program and the software platform on which it was built from the University of Virginia. The terms of this arrangement have been reviewed and approved by the University of Virginia in accordance with its conflict of interest policy. N.G. has received grants from the NHMRC during the conduct of the study and personal fees from Lundbeck, Servier and Janssen outside the submitted work.


© The Royal College of Psychiatrists 2017. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Non-Commercial, No Derivatives (CC BY-NC-ND) license.

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