The Use of Internet-Enabled Cognitive Behavioral Therapy in t ...

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This article reports on the experience of internet-enabled cognitive behavioural therapy (IECBT) for older people diagnosed with depression and anxiety. IECBT involves synchronous real-time communication between the therapist and patient via instant messaging and has been found to be effective in the treatment of patients over eighteen diagnosed with depression. While younger populations are an obvious focus for studies into the potential of internet-based therapies, older people’s experience of such therapies can be overlooked due to assumptions about their relatively lower rates of internet use. However, rapid increases in this generation’s levels of internet access make this an important avenue of enquiry. In addition, such therapies may offer a route to address the underdiagnosis and undertreatment of depression and anxiety among older people. Once older people are diagnosed, evidence suggests that they tend to prefer psychological therapies, and these can be effective in this age group. This article therefore builds on the positive findings about IECBT as a treatment option in general by, for the first time, analysing quantitative data relating to older people’s use of this form of therapy. It analyses secondary data on patient characteristics, take-up of treatment, and treatment outcomes, finding that older men are over-represented among IECBT patients and that rates of self-referral are higher in this age group.