Computerized CBT safe, effective and popular among substance abusers
Treatment with a computer-based cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT4CBT) as a virtual standalone intervention in a clinical setting to a diverse sample of patients with current substance use disorders is safe, effective and durable compared to standard treatment strategies, according to a recent study. In addition, CBT4CBT is well-liked by the participants.
On the other hand, although clinician-delivered individual CBT is effective within the treatment period, it is unexpectedly associated with a higher dropout rate and lower effects at follow-up.
The authors examined the efficacy and safety of CBT4CBT as a virtual standalone treatment, delivered with minimal clinical monitoring, and clinician-delivered CBT compared with treatment as usual in a heterogeneous sample of treatment-seeking outpatients with substance use disorders.
A total of 137 individuals who met DSM-IV-TR criteria for current substance abuse or dependence were randomized to receive treatment as usual, weekly individual CBT or CBT4CBT with brief weekly monitoring.
Groups varied in terms of treatment exposure rates, with patients in the CBT4CBT group achieving the best retention and those in the individual CBT group the poorest.
Frequency of substance use was significantly more reduced among patients who received CBT or CBT4CBT than those who received treatment as usual. At 6-month follow-up, the continuing benefit of CBT4CBT (plus monitoring) persisted over treatment as usual, but not for clinician-delivered CBT over treatment as usual.
In analysis of secondary outcomes, patients in the CBT4CBT group had the best learning of cognitive and behavioural concepts, as well as the highest satisfaction with treatment.
“Previous trials have demonstrated the efficacy and durability of CBT4CBT as an add-on to standard outpatient care in a range of treatment-seeking populations,” the authors noted.