Internet-based cognitive behavioral therapy in stepped care for chronic fatigue syndrome: Randomized noninferiority trial

M. Worm, A. Janse, A. van Dam, A. Evers, R. van der Vaart, A. Wensing, H. Knoop*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

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Abstract

Background: 
Internet-based cognitive behavioral therapy (I-CBT) leads to a reduction of fatigue severity and disability in adults with chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS). However, not all patients profit and it remains unclear how I-CBT is best embedded in the care of CFS patients.

Objective:
This study aimed to compare the efficacy of stepped care, using therapist-assisted I-CBT, followed by face-to-face (f2f) cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) when needed, with f2f CBT (treatment as usual [TAU]) on fatigue severity. The secondary aim was to investigate treatment efficiency.

Methods: 
A total of 363 CFS patients were randomized to 1 of the 3 treatment arms (n=121). There were 2 stepped care conditions that differed in the therapists’ feedback during I-CBT: prescheduled or on-demand. When still severely fatigued or disabled after I-CBT, the patients were offered f2f CBT. Noninferiority of both stepped care conditions to TAU was tested using analysis of covariance. The primary outcome was fatigue severity (Checklist Individual Strength). Disabilities (Sickness Impact Profile -8), physical functioning (Medical Outcomes Survey Short Form-36), psychological distress (Symptom Checklist-90), and proportion of patients with clinically significant improvement in fatigue were the secondary outcomes. The amount of invested therapist time was compared between stepped care and TAU. Exploratory comparisons were made between the stepped care conditions of invested therapist time and proportion of patients who continued with f2f CBT.

Results: 
Noninferiority was indicated, as the upper boundary of the one-sided 98.75% CI of the difference in the change in fatigue severity between both forms of stepped care and TAU were below the noninferiority margin of 5.2 (4.25 and 3.81, respectively). The between-group differences on the secondary outcomes were also not significant (P=.11 to P=.79). Both stepped care formats required less therapist time than TAU (median 8 hours, 9 minutes and 7 hours, 25 minutes in stepped care vs 12 hours in TAU; P<.001). The difference in therapist time between both stepped care formats was not significant. Approximately half of the patients meeting step-up criteria for f2f CBT after I-CBT did not continue.

Conclusions: 
Stepped care, including I-CBT followed by f2f CBT when indicated, is noninferior to TAU of f2f CBT and requires less therapist time. I-CBT for CFS can be used as a first step in stepped care.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere11276
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Medical Internet Research (JMIR)
Volume21
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2019

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Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
Checklist
Sickness Impact Profile

Keywords

  • ANXIETY
  • DEPRESSION
  • EFFICACY
  • PERPETUATING COGNITIONS
  • PSYCHOLOGICAL TREATMENTS
  • SOMATIC DISORDERS
  • chronic fatigue syndrome
  • cognitive behavioral therapy
  • eHealth
  • randomized controlled trial

Cite this

@article{965b9357f20e4a42aa92a18c44f762e5,
title = "Internet-based cognitive behavioral therapy in stepped care for chronic fatigue syndrome: Randomized noninferiority trial",
abstract = "Background: Internet-based cognitive behavioral therapy (I-CBT) leads to a reduction of fatigue severity and disability in adults with chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS). However, not all patients profit and it remains unclear how I-CBT is best embedded in the care of CFS patients.Objective:This study aimed to compare the efficacy of stepped care, using therapist-assisted I-CBT, followed by face-to-face (f2f) cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) when needed, with f2f CBT (treatment as usual [TAU]) on fatigue severity. The secondary aim was to investigate treatment efficiency.Methods: A total of 363 CFS patients were randomized to 1 of the 3 treatment arms (n=121). There were 2 stepped care conditions that differed in the therapists’ feedback during I-CBT: prescheduled or on-demand. When still severely fatigued or disabled after I-CBT, the patients were offered f2f CBT. Noninferiority of both stepped care conditions to TAU was tested using analysis of covariance. The primary outcome was fatigue severity (Checklist Individual Strength). Disabilities (Sickness Impact Profile -8), physical functioning (Medical Outcomes Survey Short Form-36), psychological distress (Symptom Checklist-90), and proportion of patients with clinically significant improvement in fatigue were the secondary outcomes. The amount of invested therapist time was compared between stepped care and TAU. Exploratory comparisons were made between the stepped care conditions of invested therapist time and proportion of patients who continued with f2f CBT.Results: Noninferiority was indicated, as the upper boundary of the one-sided 98.75{\%} CI of the difference in the change in fatigue severity between both forms of stepped care and TAU were below the noninferiority margin of 5.2 (4.25 and 3.81, respectively). The between-group differences on the secondary outcomes were also not significant (P=.11 to P=.79). Both stepped care formats required less therapist time than TAU (median 8 hours, 9 minutes and 7 hours, 25 minutes in stepped care vs 12 hours in TAU; P<.001). The difference in therapist time between both stepped care formats was not significant. Approximately half of the patients meeting step-up criteria for f2f CBT after I-CBT did not continue.Conclusions: Stepped care, including I-CBT followed by f2f CBT when indicated, is noninferior to TAU of f2f CBT and requires less therapist time. I-CBT for CFS can be used as a first step in stepped care.",
keywords = "ANXIETY, DEPRESSION, EFFICACY, PERPETUATING COGNITIONS, PSYCHOLOGICAL TREATMENTS, SOMATIC DISORDERS, chronic fatigue syndrome, cognitive behavioral therapy, eHealth, randomized controlled trial",
author = "M. Worm and A. Janse and {van Dam}, A. and A. Evers and {van der Vaart}, R. and A. Wensing and H. Knoop",
year = "2019",
doi = "10.2196/11276",
language = "English",
volume = "21",
journal = "Journal of Medical Internet Research (JMIR)",
issn = "1438-8871",
publisher = "JMIR PUBLICATIONS, INC",
number = "3",

}

Internet-based cognitive behavioral therapy in stepped care for chronic fatigue syndrome : Randomized noninferiority trial. / Worm, M.; Janse, A.; van Dam, A.; Evers, A.; van der Vaart, R.; Wensing, A.; Knoop, H.

In: Journal of Medical Internet Research (JMIR), Vol. 21, No. 3, e11276, 2019.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

TY - JOUR

T1 - Internet-based cognitive behavioral therapy in stepped care for chronic fatigue syndrome

T2 - Randomized noninferiority trial

AU - Worm, M.

AU - Janse, A.

AU - van Dam, A.

AU - Evers, A.

AU - van der Vaart, R.

AU - Wensing, A.

AU - Knoop, H.

PY - 2019

Y1 - 2019

N2 - Background: Internet-based cognitive behavioral therapy (I-CBT) leads to a reduction of fatigue severity and disability in adults with chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS). However, not all patients profit and it remains unclear how I-CBT is best embedded in the care of CFS patients.Objective:This study aimed to compare the efficacy of stepped care, using therapist-assisted I-CBT, followed by face-to-face (f2f) cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) when needed, with f2f CBT (treatment as usual [TAU]) on fatigue severity. The secondary aim was to investigate treatment efficiency.Methods: A total of 363 CFS patients were randomized to 1 of the 3 treatment arms (n=121). There were 2 stepped care conditions that differed in the therapists’ feedback during I-CBT: prescheduled or on-demand. When still severely fatigued or disabled after I-CBT, the patients were offered f2f CBT. Noninferiority of both stepped care conditions to TAU was tested using analysis of covariance. The primary outcome was fatigue severity (Checklist Individual Strength). Disabilities (Sickness Impact Profile -8), physical functioning (Medical Outcomes Survey Short Form-36), psychological distress (Symptom Checklist-90), and proportion of patients with clinically significant improvement in fatigue were the secondary outcomes. The amount of invested therapist time was compared between stepped care and TAU. Exploratory comparisons were made between the stepped care conditions of invested therapist time and proportion of patients who continued with f2f CBT.Results: Noninferiority was indicated, as the upper boundary of the one-sided 98.75% CI of the difference in the change in fatigue severity between both forms of stepped care and TAU were below the noninferiority margin of 5.2 (4.25 and 3.81, respectively). The between-group differences on the secondary outcomes were also not significant (P=.11 to P=.79). Both stepped care formats required less therapist time than TAU (median 8 hours, 9 minutes and 7 hours, 25 minutes in stepped care vs 12 hours in TAU; P<.001). The difference in therapist time between both stepped care formats was not significant. Approximately half of the patients meeting step-up criteria for f2f CBT after I-CBT did not continue.Conclusions: Stepped care, including I-CBT followed by f2f CBT when indicated, is noninferior to TAU of f2f CBT and requires less therapist time. I-CBT for CFS can be used as a first step in stepped care.

AB - Background: Internet-based cognitive behavioral therapy (I-CBT) leads to a reduction of fatigue severity and disability in adults with chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS). However, not all patients profit and it remains unclear how I-CBT is best embedded in the care of CFS patients.Objective:This study aimed to compare the efficacy of stepped care, using therapist-assisted I-CBT, followed by face-to-face (f2f) cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) when needed, with f2f CBT (treatment as usual [TAU]) on fatigue severity. The secondary aim was to investigate treatment efficiency.Methods: A total of 363 CFS patients were randomized to 1 of the 3 treatment arms (n=121). There were 2 stepped care conditions that differed in the therapists’ feedback during I-CBT: prescheduled or on-demand. When still severely fatigued or disabled after I-CBT, the patients were offered f2f CBT. Noninferiority of both stepped care conditions to TAU was tested using analysis of covariance. The primary outcome was fatigue severity (Checklist Individual Strength). Disabilities (Sickness Impact Profile -8), physical functioning (Medical Outcomes Survey Short Form-36), psychological distress (Symptom Checklist-90), and proportion of patients with clinically significant improvement in fatigue were the secondary outcomes. The amount of invested therapist time was compared between stepped care and TAU. Exploratory comparisons were made between the stepped care conditions of invested therapist time and proportion of patients who continued with f2f CBT.Results: Noninferiority was indicated, as the upper boundary of the one-sided 98.75% CI of the difference in the change in fatigue severity between both forms of stepped care and TAU were below the noninferiority margin of 5.2 (4.25 and 3.81, respectively). The between-group differences on the secondary outcomes were also not significant (P=.11 to P=.79). Both stepped care formats required less therapist time than TAU (median 8 hours, 9 minutes and 7 hours, 25 minutes in stepped care vs 12 hours in TAU; P<.001). The difference in therapist time between both stepped care formats was not significant. Approximately half of the patients meeting step-up criteria for f2f CBT after I-CBT did not continue.Conclusions: Stepped care, including I-CBT followed by f2f CBT when indicated, is noninferior to TAU of f2f CBT and requires less therapist time. I-CBT for CFS can be used as a first step in stepped care.

KW - ANXIETY

KW - DEPRESSION

KW - EFFICACY

KW - PERPETUATING COGNITIONS

KW - PSYCHOLOGICAL TREATMENTS

KW - SOMATIC DISORDERS

KW - chronic fatigue syndrome

KW - cognitive behavioral therapy

KW - eHealth

KW - randomized controlled trial

U2 - 10.2196/11276

DO - 10.2196/11276

M3 - Article

VL - 21

JO - Journal of Medical Internet Research (JMIR)

JF - Journal of Medical Internet Research (JMIR)

SN - 1438-8871

IS - 3

M1 - e11276

ER -