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Victoria Suchan

Examining the acceptability and effectiveness of transdiagnostic, Internet-delivered cognitive behaviour therapy for symptoms of postpartum anxiety and depression: A randomized controlled trial

Doctoral Dissertation, Victoria Suchan, 2021

Background: Following childbirth, women experience significant biological, physical, social, and emotional changes, wherein 20% of new mothers experience clinically impairing symptoms of anxiety or depression. Although effective treatment options exist, such as cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT), new mothers report barriers to accessing such services. Importantly, many of these barriers can be overcome using Internet-delivered CBT (ICBT), which has been found to be effective in the treatment of various mental health concerns, including depression and anxiety. As postpartum anxiety and depression often co-occur, transdiagnostic ICBT that addresses both

Method: The current study explored the acceptability and effectiveness of a transdiagnostic ICBT program, the Wellbeing Course for New Moms, with a sample of Saskatchewan women who had an infant less than one year of age. Participants (= 60) endorsing symptoms of depression or anxiety were randomly assigned to the Wellbeing Course for New Moms or a waitlist control (WLC) group. Participants completed measures pre-treatment, post-treatment, and 1-month follow-up. Treatment satisfaction, therapeutic alliance, and open-ended questions assessing participant experiences with treatment were also explored.

Results: The analyses revealed that both treatment and WLC participants experienced significant reductions in anxiety, depression, and distress over time, as well as improvements in mother-infant bonding The treatment group reported significantly superior improvements in symptoms of anxiety and distress as compared to the WLC. For the treatment group large changes were seen on measures of anxiety and depression and symptom improvement was maintained at follow-up. On some measures of depression, however, differences between the WLC and the treatment group not statistically significant, although trends were observed.

Conclusions: Participants were satisfied with this treatment modality and were able to establish a strong working alliance with their online therapist. Results from the current study provide emerging evidence for transdiagnostic ICBT in the treatment of postpartum anxiety and depression.

Increasing favourable expectations of therapist-assisted Internet-delivered cognitive behaviour therapy: Importance of testimonial-based versus statistically-based information

Masters Thesis Results, Victoria Owens 2017

The current study explored whether transdiagnostic, Internet-delivered cognitive behaviour therapy (ICBT) is effective in the treatment of health anxiety, characterized by excessive worry about one’s health and fear that one will acquire an illness. Further, the level of therapist support, namely weekly therapist support or optional therapist support, was examined. Ninety-six clients participating in the Wellbeing Course, an 8-week transdiagnostic ICBT program, with elevated health anxiety symptomatology (≥15 on the Short Health Anxiety Inventory [SHAI]) were included in the current study. Results suggest that health anxiety symptoms significantly reduce following transdiagnostic ICBT. Additionally, clients receiving both weekly and optional therapist contact experienced symptom reduction to a similar extent; however, clients that received weekly therapist contact displayed more favourable treatment engagement (i.e., more lessons completed, more messages sent). Future research is warranted to disentangle the role of therapist contact on symptom reduction and treatment engagement. The results from the current study lend support for the use of transdiagnostic ICBT in the treatment of health anxiety.

Increasing favourable expectations of therapist-assisted Internet-delivered cognitive behaviour therapy: Importance of testimonial-based versus statistically-based information

Honours Thesis Results, Victoria Owens 2015

Background: Internet-delivered Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (ICBT) is an effective method of treating anxiety and depression. Nevertheless, many individuals have low expectations about this treatment given that it is novel. This presents a problem, as higher expectations of treatment have been linked to more favourable treatment outcomes.

Objective: The aim of the present study was to determine if an educational video about ICBT is an effective way to increase individuals’ views of this treatment.

Methods: Participants were assigned to view an educational video about ICBT containing testimonial-based (n = 44) or statistically-based information (n = 53). Questionnaires administered pre- and post-video were analyzed to assess for changes in attitudes towards ICBT, and to determine whether one video was more effective. Correlates between participant characteristics and views of ICBT were examined.

Results: Perceptions of ICBT significantly improved post-video; however, the difference between the two video conditions was not significant. While participant characteristics (e.g., age, sex) were not correlated with views of ICBT, how participants rated the video were.

Conclusion: Educational videos effectively increase expectations of ICBT, and the quality of information presented in the video is more important than the particular information presented.

Practice Implications: In order to facilitate the greatest therapeutic benefit from an ICBT treatment program, it may be beneficial for clients to watch an educational video prior to the onset of treatment.