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The working alliance in a randomized controlled trial comparing online with face-to-face cognitive-behavioral therapy for depression


Preschl, B; Maercker, Andreas; Wagner, B (2011). The working alliance in a randomized controlled trial comparing online with face-to-face cognitive-behavioral therapy for depression. BMC Psychiatry, 11:189-199.

Abstract

Background
Although numerous efficacy studies in recent years have found internet-based interventions for depression to be effective, there has been scant consideration of therapeutic process factors in the online setting. In face-to face therapy, the quality of the working alliance explains variance in treatment outcome. However, little is yet known about the impact of the working alliance in internet-based interventions, particularly as compared with face-to-face therapy.

Methods
This study explored the working alliance between client and therapist in the middle and at the end of a cognitive-behavioral intervention for depression. The participants were randomized to an internet-based treatment group (n = 25) or face-to-face group (n = 28). Both groups received the same cognitive behavioral therapy over an 8-week timeframe. Participants completed the Beck Depression Inventory (BDI) post-treatment and the Working Alliance Inventory at mid- and post- treatment. Therapists completed the therapist version of the Working Alliance Inventory at post-treatment.

Results
With the exception of therapists' ratings of the tasks subscale, which were significantly higher in the online group, the two groups' ratings of the working alliance did not differ significantly. Further, significant correlations were found between clients' ratings of the working alliance and therapy outcome at post-treatment in the online group and at both mid- and post-treatment in the face-to-face group. Correlation analysis revealed that the working alliance ratings did not significantly predict the BDI residual gain score in either group.

Conclusions
Contrary to what might have been expected, the working alliance in the online group was comparable to that in the face-to-face group. However, the results showed no significant relations between the BDI residual gain score and the working alliance ratings in either group.

Trial registration
ACTRN12611000563965

Background
Although numerous efficacy studies in recent years have found internet-based interventions for depression to be effective, there has been scant consideration of therapeutic process factors in the online setting. In face-to face therapy, the quality of the working alliance explains variance in treatment outcome. However, little is yet known about the impact of the working alliance in internet-based interventions, particularly as compared with face-to-face therapy.

Methods
This study explored the working alliance between client and therapist in the middle and at the end of a cognitive-behavioral intervention for depression. The participants were randomized to an internet-based treatment group (n = 25) or face-to-face group (n = 28). Both groups received the same cognitive behavioral therapy over an 8-week timeframe. Participants completed the Beck Depression Inventory (BDI) post-treatment and the Working Alliance Inventory at mid- and post- treatment. Therapists completed the therapist version of the Working Alliance Inventory at post-treatment.

Results
With the exception of therapists' ratings of the tasks subscale, which were significantly higher in the online group, the two groups' ratings of the working alliance did not differ significantly. Further, significant correlations were found between clients' ratings of the working alliance and therapy outcome at post-treatment in the online group and at both mid- and post-treatment in the face-to-face group. Correlation analysis revealed that the working alliance ratings did not significantly predict the BDI residual gain score in either group.

Conclusions
Contrary to what might have been expected, the working alliance in the online group was comparable to that in the face-to-face group. However, the results showed no significant relations between the BDI residual gain score and the working alliance ratings in either group.

Trial registration
ACTRN12611000563965

Citations

22 citations in Web of Science®
24 citations in Scopus®
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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:06 Faculty of Arts > Institute of Psychology
Dewey Decimal Classification:150 Psychology
Uncontrolled Keywords:Psychotherapeutisches Zentrum des Psychologischen Instituts UZH
Language:English
Date:2011
Deposited On:17 Feb 2012 10:26
Last Modified:05 Apr 2016 15:38
Publisher:BioMed Central
ISSN:1471-244X
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1186/1471-244X-11-189
PubMed ID:22145768
Permanent URL: https://doi.org/10.5167/uzh-59545

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