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Clinical Trial Summary

The aim of this single arm feasibility trial is to examine an internet delivered, self-help program for depression and anxiety, based on psychodynamic therapy. The study will evaluate the psychodynamic program with therapist support. The participants will be university students.

Clinical Trial Description

Background: There appears to be an increase in mental health difficulties amongst higher education students in the UK. However, NHS services are over-stretched, and clients often experience long waits for treatment, during which time their symptoms may worsen. Internet-based therapies could be an important and accessible treatment option, particularly when provided within the context of the university, as this has the potential to provide timely treatment to those seeking help. The majority of internet-based therapies use a Cognitive Behavioural Therapy framework. However, psychodynamic therapy has also been adapted to an internet-based format - often called 'iPDT'. One such iPDT programme was developed in Sweden for the treatment of adolescent depression. This is a self-guided programme, with therapist support. Clients 'chat' with their therapist once a week, for 30-minutes, using an instant-messaging platform on the therapy website. They can also send a-synchronous messages to their therapist, and the therapist can view the worksheets that client's complete on the therapy website. This iPDT programme has been evaluated in two Randomised Controlled Trials, both of which showed it to be effective. Given the promising results of the Swedish iPDT programme, a research team at the Anna Freud Centre in the UK conducted a pilot study of an English-language version of the treatment; this pilot found evidence of a decrease in adolescents' symptoms of depression, and an improvement in emotion regulation, at the end of the 10-week treatment, with outcomes maintained at three month follow up. At present, we do not know whether the iPDT programme would be accepted by, and effective for, participants without the weekly instant-messaging sessions. These 'chat sessions' are valued by many service users, but increase the cost and intensity of the programme. Furthermore, to date, the English-language version of the programme has not been tested with a university student population - young adults, rather than adolescents. Study aims and design: This will be a singel arm feasibility trial. We aim to recruit approximately 50 university students with symptoms of depression and anxiety. The aims of the study are to assess recruitment and retention rates of participants, including at three month follow up. To examine acceptability of the platform for the new target population, including levels of engagement with different elements of the treatment across the course of the intervention. The study will also explore indications of treatment efficacy. Additional exploratory analyses may be undertaken to explore moderators and mediators of change. Participants will receive Internet Based Psychotherapy (iPDT). This is a 10-week intervention, delivered on the therapy website - called 'Iterapi' - which was developed at Linköping University in Sweden. The programme involves creative and interactive web-based content: worksheets, audio, video, expressive writing exercises. Additionally, each participant is assigned a Therapeutic Support Worker (TSW). The TSW logs into the platform and views the questionnaires and other data provided by the participants that they are supporting. Each week, the TSW sends each of their participants a reflective message in response to the data they have provided when interacting with the programme over the last week. The participant can reply to this message. After completing the 10 week intervention, qualitative data will be collected via interviews with some participants to explore participants' experiences of the IPDT programme, in particular focussing on therapy process and their understandings of mechanisms of change, and of 'what works for whom'. Participants will also complete a set of follow up questionnaires 3 months after they complete the intervention. The iPDT programme has 8 chapters. The principal objective of the iPDT intervention is to reduce depressive symptoms through the promotion of emotional awareness and emotional experience. The intervention is an affect-focused therapy and draws on Malan's Triangle of Conflict. Participants are invited to link their emotions to depressive symptoms, to challenge defences, regulate anxiety, and explore previously avoided feelings. ;

Study Design

Related Conditions & MeSH terms

NCT number NCT06133582
Study type Interventional
Source University College, London
Status Active, not recruiting
Phase N/A
Start date November 27, 2023
Completion date September 1, 2024

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