Research paper

A qualitative study of dropout from an internet-delivered CBT intervention for adults with depression and anxiety

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Original Paper Dropout From an Internet-Delivered Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Intervention for Adults With Depression and Anxiety: Qualitative Study Kate Lawler 1,2 , BA, MSc; Caroline Earley 1,2 , MSc; Ladislav Timulak 1 , PhD; Angel Enrique 1,2 , PhD; Derek Richards 1,2 , PhD 1 E-Mental Health Research Group, School of Psychology, Trinity College Dublin, Dublin, Ireland 2 Clinical Research and Innovation, SilverCloud Health, Dublin, Ireland Corresponding Author: Kate Lawler, BA, MSc E-Mental Health Research Group School of Psychology Trinity College Dublin College Green Dublin Ireland Phone: 353 851510008 Email: Abstract Background: Treatment dropout continues to be reported from internet-delivered cognitive behavioral therapy (iCBT) interventions, and lower completion rates are generally associated with lower treatment effect sizes. However, evidence is emerging to suggest that completion of a predefined number of modules is not always necessary for clinical benefit or consideration of the needs of each individual patient. Objective: The aim of this study is to perform a qualitative analysis of patients' experiences with an iCBT intervention in a routine care setting to achieve a deeper insight into the phenomenon of dropout. Methods: A total of 15 purposively sampled participants (female: 8/15, 53%) from a larger parent randomized controlled trial were interviewed via telephone using a semistructured interview schedule that was developed based on the existing literature and research on dropout in iCBT. Data were analyzed using a descriptive-interpretive approach. Results: The experience of treatment leading to dropout can be understood in terms of 10 domains: relationship to technology, motivation to start, background knowledge and attitudes toward iCBT, perceived change in motivation, usage of the program, changes due to the intervention, engagement with content, experience interacting with the supporter, experience of web-based communication, and termination of the supported period. Conclusions: Patients who drop out of treatment can be distinguished in terms of their change in motivation: those who felt ready to leave treatment early and those who had negative reasons for dropping out. These 2 groups of participants have different treatment experiences, revealing the potential attributes and nonattributes of dropout. The reported between-group differences should be examined further to consider those attributes that are strongly descriptive of the experience and regarded less important than those that have become loosely affiliated. (JMIR Form Res 2021;5(11):e26221) doi: 10.2196/26221 KEYWORDS depression; anxiety; iCBT; dropout; internet interventions JMIR Form Res 2021 | vol. 5 | iss. 11 | e26221 | p. 1 (page number not for citation purposes) Lawler et al JMIR FORMATIVE RESEARCH XSL • FO RenderX

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