(HealthDay News) — A digital therapeutic intervention with minimal therapist input cuts psychological distress among individuals with long-term physical health conditions, according to a study published online Feb. 14 in Psychological Medicine.

Federica Picariello, PhD, from King’s College London, and colleagues evaluated the clinical efficacy of COMPASS, a therapist-supported digital cognitive-behavioral therapy program, for reducing psychological distress (anxiety/depression) in people living with long-term physical health conditions. The analysis included 194 participants randomly assigned to COMPASS (94 participants) or standard charity support (100 control participants).

The researchers found that at 12 weeks, the mean level of psychological distress was 6.82 points lower in the COMPASS arm versus the control (standardized mean difference of 0.71). There was also a moderate significant treatment effect on secondary outcomes (depression, anxiety and illness-related distress) in the COMPASS arm, as well as small significant effects on functioning and quality of life. The groups had similar rates of adverse events. At 12 weeks, deterioration in distress occurred in 2.2% of the control arm and among no participants in the COMPASS arm.

“COMPASS offers a potentially scalable implementation model for health services but its translation to these contexts needs further evaluating,” the authors write.

One author disclosed ties to the digital therapeutics industry.

Abstract/Full Text