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Open Access Highly Accessed Study protocol

Guided and unguided CBT for social anxiety disorder and/or panic disorder via the Internet and a smartphone application: study protocol for a randomised controlled trial

Philip Lindner1, Ekaterina Ivanova2, Kien Hoa Ly3, Gerhard Andersson13 and Per Carlbring2*

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Clinical Neuroscience, Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden

2 Department of Psychology, Stockholm University, 106 91 Stockholm, Sweden

3 Department of Behavioural Sciences and Learning, Linköping University, Linköping, Sweden

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Trials 2013, 14:437  doi:10.1186/1745-6215-14-437

Published: 18 December 2013

Abstract

Background

Smartphone technology presents a novel and promising opportunity to extend the reach of psychotherapeutic interventions by moving selected parts of the therapy into the real-life situations causing distress. This randomised controlled trial will investigate the effects of a transdiagnostic, Internet-administered cognitive behavioural (iCBT) self-help program for anxiety, supplemented with a smartphone application. The effect of added therapist support will also be studied.

Methods/Design

One hundred and fifty participants meeting diagnostic criteria for social anxiety disorder and/or panic disorder will be evenly randomised to either one of three study groups: 1, smartphone-supplemented iCBT with therapist support; 2, smartphone-supplemented iCBT without therapist support; or 3, an active waiting list control group with delayed treatment. Primary outcome measure will be the Generalised Anxiety Disorder 7-item self-rating scale. Secondary measures include other anxiety, depression and quality of life measures. In addition to pre- and post-treatment measurements, the study includes two mid-treatment (days 24 and 48) and two follow-up assessments (12 and 36 months) to assess rapid and long-term effects.

Discussion

To our knowledge, this is the first study to investigate the effectiveness of smartphone-supplemented iCBT for anxiety disorders. Hence, the findings from this trial will constitute great advancements in the burgeoning and promising field of smartphone-administered psychological interventions. Limitations are discussed.

Trial registration

Clinicaltrials.gov: NCT01963806

Keywords:
Smartphone; Application; App; Cognitive behavioural; Internet-administered; Anxiety; Randomised controlled trial