The Clinical Effectiveness of Blended Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Compared With Face-to-Face Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Adult Depression: Randomized Controlled Noninferiority Trial

Kim Mathiasen*, Tonny E. Andersen, Mia Beck Lichtenstein, Lars Holger Ehlers, Heleen Riper, Annet Kleiboer, Kirsten K. Roessler

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

66 Downloads (Pure)


BACKGROUND: Internet-based cognitive behavioral therapy (iCBT) has been demonstrated to be cost- and clinically effective. There is a need, however, for increased therapist contact for some patient groups. Combining iCBT with traditional face-to-face (FtF) consultations in a blended format may produce a new treatment format (B-CBT) with multiple benefits from both traditional CBT and iCBT, such as individual adaptation, lower costs than traditional therapy, wide geographical and temporal availability, and possibly lower threshold to implementation. OBJECTIVE: The primary aim of this study is to compare directly the clinical effectiveness of B-CBT with FtF-CBT for adult major depressive disorder. METHODS: A 2-arm randomized controlled noninferiority trial compared B-CBT for adult depression with treatment as usual (TAU). The trial was researcher blinded (unblinded for participants and clinicians). B-CBT comprised 6 sessions of FtF-CBT alternated with 6-8 web-based CBT self-help modules. TAU comprised 12 sessions of FtF-CBT. All participants were aged 18 or older and met the diagnostic criteria for major depressive disorder and were recruited via a national iCBT clinic. The primary outcome was change in depression severity on the 9-item Patient Health Questionnaire (PHQ-9). Secondary analyses included client satisfaction (8-item Client Satisfaction Questionnaire [CSQ-8]), patient expectancy (Credibility and Expectancy Questionnaire [CEQ]), and working (Working Alliance Inventory [WAI] and Technical Alliance Inventory [TAI]). The primary outcome was analyzed by a mixed effects model including all available data from baseline, weekly measures, 3-, 6, and 12-month follow-up. RESULTS: A total of 76 individuals were randomized, with 38 allocated to each treatment group. Age ranged from 18 to 71 years (SD 13.96) with 56 (74%) females. Attrition rate was 20% (n=15), which was less in the FtF-CBT group (n=6, 16%) than in the B-CBT group (n=9, 24%). As many as 53 (70%) completed 9 or more sessions almost equally distributed between the groups (nFtF-CBT=27, 71%; nB-CBT=26, 68%). PHQ-9 reduced 11.38 points in the FtF-CBT group and 8.10 in the B-CBT group. At 6 months, the mean difference was a mere 0.17 points. The primary analyses confirmed large and significant within-group reductions in both groups (FtF-CBT: β=-.03; standard error [SE] 0.00; P<.001 and B-CBT: β=-.02; SE 0.00; P<.001). A small but significant interaction effect was observed between groups (β=.01; SE 0.00; P=.03). Employment status influenced the outcome differently between groups, where the B-CBT group was seen to profit more from not being full-time employed than the FtF group. CONCLUSIONS: With large within-group effects in both treatment arms, the study demonstrated feasibility of B-CBT in Denmark. At 6 months' follow-up, there appeared to be no difference between the 2 treatment formats, with a small but nonsignificant difference at 12 months. The study seems to demonstrate that B-CBT is capable of producing treatment effects that are close to FtF-CBT and that completion rates and satisfaction rates were comparable between groups. However, the study was limited by small sample size and should be interpreted with caution. TRIAL REGISTRATION: NCT02796573; INTERNATIONAL REGISTERED REPORT IDENTIFIER (IRRID): RR2-10.1186/s12888-016-1140-y.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Medical Internet Research
Issue number9
Pages (from-to)e36577
Publication statusPublished - 7. Sept 2022


  • blended care
  • blended cognitive behavioral therapy
  • CBT
  • cognitive therapy
  • Denmark
  • depression
  • depressive disorder, major
  • effectiveness
  • treatment outcome
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Depression
  • Male
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
  • Depressive Disorder, Major/therapy
  • Patient Satisfaction
  • Young Adult
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Female
  • Aged


Dive into the research topics of 'The Clinical Effectiveness of Blended Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Compared With Face-to-Face Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Adult Depression: Randomized Controlled Noninferiority Trial'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this