Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a debilitating mental health condition frequently associated with psychiatric comorbidity and diminished quality of life, and it typically follows a chronic, often lifelong, course. Previous research has shown that trauma-related psychopathology (but not necessarily clinical PTSD) can be effectively treated via the Internet. This study is the first of its kind to report on the online treatment of patients with a Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (fourth edition) clinical diagnosis of PTSD with therapist support by e-mail only. Preliminary findings are presented of an open trial involving a 10-week Internet-based therapist-assisted cognitive behavioural treatment for PTSD (PTSD Online). Pre and posttreatment measures of PTSD and related symptomatology were compared for 16 participants with a variety of trauma experiences. Participants showed clinically significant reductions in PTSD severity and symptomatology, moderate tolerance of the program content, and high therapeutic alliance ratings. No significant change was found on measures of more general psychological symptoms. The results suggest that PTSD Online appears to be an effective and accessible clinical treatment for people with a confirmed PTSD diagnosis.
rInternet-based interventions with therapist support have proven effective for treating a range of mental health conditions. This study examined whether frequency of therapist contact affected treatment outcomes. Fifty-seven people with panic disorder (including 32 with agoraphobia) were randomly allocated to an 8-week Internet-based cognitive behavioural treatment intervention (Panic Online) with either frequent (three e-mails per week) or infrequent (one e-mail per week) support from a psychologist. Posttreatment, intention-to-treat analyses revealed that both treatments were effective at improving panic disorder and agoraphobia severity ratings, panic-related cognitions, negative affect, and psychological and physical quality of life domains, with no differences between conditions. High end-state functioning was achieved by 28.6% of the frequent and infrequent participants, respectively. Therapist alliance, treatment credibility, and satisfaction also did not differ between groups, despite significantly greater therapist time invested in the frequent contact condition. The results provide evidence that the effectiveness of Internet-based mental health interventions may be independent of the frequency of therapist support and may, therefore, be more cost-effective than previously reported.