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Student psychologists help the depressed

Liisa Luuk and Lisa Backlund are in the last term of their Psychology programme. During the spring they will be doing a graduation project in which they will evaluate the effects of cognitive behavioural therapy on depression, where the treatment is a combination of online treatment and actual face-to-face meetings. Their study is a part of a larger European research project in which the results from eight European countries are brought together.

Liisa Luuk och Lisa Backlund There is good support in research for both traditional face-to-face CBT and for treatment delivered online, Ms Backlund explains. What is new, and has not been researched as much, is that in this study there are four face-to-face meetings with the therapist in addition to the online treatment. Many patients request meeting their therapist, and it can result in more people completing their therapy.

“We will be taking part in the entire project,” Ms Luuk says. “We have received general guidelines from the other EU countries taking part, but we have been able to design the online treatment and the form of the treatment meetings. And we are also part of the recruitment process, conducting interviews with the participants prior to treatment. Then we follow up the results afterward, and we will also take part as therapists.”

Meeting and treating patients is not new for them.

“We see patients for three terms during our course at the university clinic ,” Ms Backlund explains. “During that time we are given basic psychotherapy training. And last term we went out for twelve weeks on professional placement, working with patients.”

In Sweden the studies will be carried out in Linköping and Stockholm. There will be places for 150 people who feel depressed to receive treatment and take part in the study, which is free. The criteria for taking part include being over 18 and having access to a telephone and a smart-phone. The treatment itself will start in February and run over ten weeks. Those interested in taking part may indicate their interest now.

“It’s important for us to have a large number of participants to make the results as reliable as possible and so that they can be compared with the various other EU countries,” Ms Luuk says. “It’s great being part of a real research project that is so big, it’s wonderful. Gaining experience of seeing how the research is done when these big names in the field are the ones doing it.”

“If we were to work as psychologists in primary care in the future, it is very possible that we would be the ones actually putting this treatment into practice,” Ms Luuk says.

Ms Backlund agrees with her.

“Yes, there's a good chance that treatment will go in this direction – more online treatment – so it’s an excellent experience for us.”

The treatment includes four face-to-face meetings with the therapist; in between, the treatment is internet-based. The participants will read some texts that talk about depression and how it is dealt with in CBT. Some of it deals with changing what you do – how to do things differently in order to deal with your depression – and part of it deals with how to manage your thinking. These are two key parts of CBT. Then there are small tasks. They might be answering questions or doing some exercises. Then you apply what you’ve read to your daily life.

Later, the treatment will be evaluated.

“We will compare it with a control group,” Ms Backlund says. “We have various questionnaires that the participants will fill in before and after the study, where they will assess how they feel. We will compare the severity of the depression symptoms before and after the treatment. We will also have a control group, that does not take part, to compare with. They will receive online treatment after the study has been completed. So everyone who takes part in the study will receive treatment.”

Professor Gerhard Andersson of the Department of Behavioural Sciences and Learning at Linköping University is behind the project. Naira Topooco is a PhD student in Clinical Psychology, and a part of Professor Andersson’s research team. She is a project manager in the research study and Ms Luuk’s and Ms Backlund’s immediate supervisor. DAY treatment was developed by researchers and psychologists from Linköping University and is based on Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT).

The DAY-studie (article in Swedish)

Annika Johansson Mon Jan 26 14:22:34 CET 2015

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Last updated: Fri Jan 30 13:35:37 CET 2015