Three Decades of Internet- and Computer-Based Interventions for the Treatment of Depression: Protocol for a Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis
Sander L.; Pulkki-Råback L; Terhorst Y; Cuijpers P; Cristea I; Moshe I
Background: Depression is one of the leading causes of disability worldwide. Internet- and computer-based interventions (IBIs) have been shown to provide effective, scalable forms of treatment. More than 100 controlled trials and a growing number of meta-analyses published over the past 30 years have demonstrated the efficacy of IBIs in reducing symptoms in the short and long term. Despite the large body of research, no comprehensive review or meta-analysis has been conducted to date that evaluates how the effectiveness of IBIs has evolved over time.
Objective: This systematic review and meta-analysis aims to evaluate whether there has been a change in the effectiveness of IBIs on the treatment of depression over the past 30 years and to identify potential variables moderating the effect size.
Methods: A sensitive search strategy will be executed across the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials (CENTRAL), MEDLINE, EMBASE, and PsycINFO. Data extraction and evaluation will be conducted by two independent researchers. Risk of bias will be assessed. A multilevel meta-regression model will be used to analyze the data and estimate effect size.
Results: The search was completed in mid-2019. We expect the results to be submitted for publication in early 2020.
Conclusions: The year 2020 will mark 30 years since the first paper was published on the use of IBIs for the treatment of depression. Despite the large and rapidly growing body of research in the field, evaluations of effectiveness to date are missing the temporal dimension. This review will address that gap and provide valuable analysis of how the effectiveness of interventions has evolved over the past three decades; which participant-, intervention-, and study-related variables moderate changes in effectiveness; and where research in the field may benefit from increased focus.
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