Effectiveness of an internet-based self-help intervention versus public mental health counseling in reducing worry during the COVID-19 pandemic: a pragmatic, parallel-group, randomized controlled trial

This article was originally published here

Psychother Psychosom. 2022 Jan 20:1-13. doi: 10.1159/000521302. Online ahead of print.


INTRODUCTION: The mental health burden for the general population due to the COVID-19 pandemic has been highlighted. Evidence of effective and easily accessible public health interventions to reduce worry, a major transdiagnostic risk factor for, for example, anxiety and depression, is scarce.

OBJECTIVE: In a pragmatic randomized controlled trial, we sought to assess whether an internet-based cognitive-behavioral self-help intervention could reduce worry more than public mental health counseling in the general population.

METHODS: Eligible Internet users over the age of 18 were recruited from the general German population and randomly assigned to get.calm-move.on (GCMO), a 10-day unguided Internet-based self-help intervention, or mental. Health Advice Waiting Group (MHA-W, receiving officially endorsed mental health recommendations). The primary endpoint was level of worry, using the Penn State Worry Questionnaire (PSWQ), 2 weeks after randomization. A baseline assessment and 2 and 6 month follow-ups were performed. The trial was registered in the German Clinical Trials Register (DRKS00021153).

RESULTS: Between April 7, 2020 and December 11, 2020, we randomly assigned 351 people to receive either GCMO (n=175) or MHA-W (n=176). Participants receiving the GCMO (PSWQ = 46.6; change -10.3) reported significantly less worry after the intervention (F1 219 = 12.9; p

CONCLUSIONS: This Internet-based self-help intervention providing cognitive-behavioral techniques to cope with the threatening pandemic situation is effective in reducing worry in the general population and should complement existing and potentially effective health recommendations mental.

PMID:35051939 | DOI: 10.1159/000521302

Sara H. Byrd