Helping people to Help Themselves: the development and evaluation of a peer-supported model of eTherapy (digital therapy) in the management of anxiety and depression in adults
Computerised therapy or eTherapy has existed for over 20 years and is credited with widening access to evidence-based psychological therapies, particularly Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT). Since its introduction to the primary care mental health landscape in England, eTherapy has predominately been delivered as a clinician-supported, low intensity intervention, as part of the Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT) initiative. IAPT was established to provide evidence-based psychological support to individuals affected by common mental health difficulties; predominately anxiety and depression.
Whilst the effectiveness of eTherapy programmes in the treatment of anxiety and depression is well established and to a degree, the acceptability of the approach, few studies have been undertaken in real-world settings to ascertain how eTherapy as an intervention works in community settings and whether it achieves positive outcomes and is acceptable to clients. Even more scarce is published research on eTherapy service delivery models with most studies focusing on eTherapy programmes. As eTherapy is typically supported by clinicians, this is the model of delivery that has been studied the most. There is an absence of research that focusses on eTherapy delivery models that utlilise and integrate peer support as opposed to clinician or therapist-supported eTherapy.
The PhD describes the development and evaluation of an innovative model of peer-supported eTherapy service delivery, developed in a user-led charity, commissioned to deliver low intensity IAPT services in the treatment of anxiety and depression in adults.
The peer supported eTherapy model has the potential to widen access to evidence-based treatments at a time when demand for mental health services is at an all-time high. This would free up clinical services to deliver more intensive clinical interventions and offers a global solution to the growing rates of anxiety and depression worldwide
Project Team: Nicola Lidbetter, Professor Alison Brettle, Dr Deborah Robertson and Dr Elaine Beaumont
Research Group: PhD Projects