University of Exeter Improve 2

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University of Exeter Improve 2

University of Exeter Improve 2 (Implementing Multifactorial Psychotherapy Research in an Online Virtual Environment)

The Mood Disorders Centre, University of Exeter has launched an innovative trial to investigate and improve internet-based psychotherapy for depression in collaboration with the BEME primary care mental health service based in Cornwall. The IMPROVE 2 trial provides free and open access internet-delivered cognitive-behavioural therapy for people with major depression, supported by online guidance from a trained psychological wellbeing practitioner.

The launch of IMPROVE 2 follows the IMPROVE-1 pilot study, which demonstrated the feasibility of recruitment and delivery of components of internet cognitive behavioural therapy for depression. IMPROVE-1 also demonstrated an improvement in depression scores between baseline and the 12 week follow-up.

IMPROVE 2 has been funded by the Cornwall NHS Foundation Partnership Trust and a South West Peninsula Academic Health Services Network grant to Professor Ed Watkins.

The goal of this research is to better understand the active ingredients of online cognitive behavioural therapy so that we can build stronger, better and more widely available psychological treatments. Cognitive-behavioural therapy is a treatment approach that seeks to reduce depression by helping individuals to change their actions and thinking. When depressed, many people become more negative and self-critical and reduce their levels of rewarding activity. Cognitive-behavioural therapy teaches people to review their thinking and to put negative thoughts into perspective, as well as building up positive and self-nurturing activities. Numerous trials have shown this approach to be effective  at reducing depression. However, there is still considerable scope to improve therapy because only one third of patients have sustained recovery that lasts over one year, and over 50% of successfully treated patients go on to have a further episode of depression (Hollon et al., 2002).