Cognitive behaviour therapy via internet effective treatment, according to new study

August 11, 2014

(Medical Xpress)—A new study from Karolinska Institutet shows that exposure-based cognitive behaviour therapy via the internet is a more effective treatment for health anxiety than an active psychological treatment with relaxation and stress management. The results are presented in the British Journal of Psychiatry.

Health anxiety involves a strong, persistent and excessive fear of succumbing to serious illness. The condition can cause great suffering to the patient and often occurs among patients within primary care. A previous study showed that can be treated with what is known as exposure-based via the Internet, where the patient gradually exposes themselves to situations that may trigger health anxiety.

For the first time, researchers at the Department of Clinical Neuroscience at Karolinska Institutet have now compared the exposure-based Internet treatment with active based on relaxation and . Both treatments were 12 weeks long and the 158 participants took part in the treatment via the Internet and had access to therapists primarily via e-mail.

Results show that the participants judged the treatments to be equally credible. Both the treatments clearly reduced the patients' health anxiety, but the exposure-based treatment reduced health anxiety to a greater extent than the treatment based on relaxation and stress management.

The results imply a new understanding of what is important in the treatment of health anxiety. The study also has clinical significance as Internet-based therapy can increase access to evidence-based psychological treatment for health anxiety.

"More people can be treated since the treatment time per patient is significantly lower than for traditional treatment. Internet treatment is independent of physical distance and, in time, this means that can be administered to people who live in rural areas or in places where there is no outpatient psychiatry with access to psychologists with CBT expertise," says PhD and licensed psychologist Erik Hedman, who led the study.

The study has been financed with funds from ALF and from Karolinska Institutet.

Explore further: New study shows cognitive behaviour therapy effective in treating older Australians with anxiety and depression

More information: British Journal of Psychiatry,

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not rated yet Aug 12, 2014
Changing the name makes it sound like progress is being made...hypochondria was a good enough name in my opinion :)

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