7 December 2012

Computerised Therapy for Insomnia

Research from the December issue of the British Journal of General Practice

Insomnia is the most common psychological complaint in Britain and most drugs available for treating sleeplessness do more harm than good. Cognitive Behavioural Therapy for Insomnia (CBT-I) has been shown to be at least as effective as drugs in the short term and safer in the long term but it is not widely used because of the lack of trained therapists.

The British Journal of General Practice this month publishes research by Jo Middlemass and colleagues from the University of Lincoln who have shown that it is possible to provide this form of therapy via home computers and by using social networks.

The study used interviews and focus groups to explore both patient and health professional attitudes towards Computerised CBT-I (CCBT-I). It was found that adults would be willing to be referred and practitioners would be prepared to refer to an online computerised package, that would include social networking, to treat insomnia providing contact was moderated and it had design features that increased trust and functionality.

Trust referred to integrity, assurance and confidence in the programme. Participants thought the treatment should be delivered through accredited, non-commercial organisations. It was also found that GP enthusiasm in the project and existing trust in the GP who referred them would increase patient’s willingness to participate.

Functionality referred to the usability and usefulness of CCBT-I.

Response to the use of social media in the therapy was mixed. Some patients thought that sharing their experiences with others online would reduce their sense of isolation whereas others were worried about online and information security.

The report concluded that ‘Greater user control over CBT-I and interaction with other users and/or professionals via integrated social networking could help contribute to a more positive experience of online therapy and enable greater access to treatment for insomnia, for an increasingly computer-literate population.’

Please mention that this study was printed in the British Journal of General Practice in any news stories.  This article can be cited as Br J Gen Pract 2012; DOI:10.3399/bjgp12X659321 Jo Middlemass, Zowie Davy, Kate Cavanagh, Conor Linehan, Kevin Morgan, Shaun Lawson and A Niroshan Siriwardena

All press-released BJGP stories are now made available on an ‘open access’ basis on the BJGP website at www.rcgp.org.uk/bjgp

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