A teletherapy program reduced symptoms of obsessive-compulsive disorder, and most patients maintained improvements up to a year later, according to a study published in JMIR.
The treatment, from digital mental health company NOCD, included twice-weekly video appointments that used exposure and response prevention (ERP) therapy for three weeks. Patients then underwent six weeks of weekly half-hour video check-ins. Researchers followed up with the patients three, six, nine and twelve months after the therapy program.
The study found a 43.4% mean reduction in patient-rated obsessive-compulsive symptoms as well as a 44.2% mean reduction in depression, a 47.8% mean reduction in anxiety and a 37.3% mean reduction in stress symptoms. Of the more than 3,500 patients included in the study, more than 1,600 participated in follow-up surveys.
The study’s authors were employed by NOCD or reported they had received payments from NOCD while conducting the study.
“The effect size was large and similar to studies of in-person ERP. This technology-assisted remote treatment is readily accessible for patients, offering an advancement in the field in the dissemination of effective evidence-based care for OCD,” researchers wrote.
WHY IT MATTERS
The study’s authors noted the virtual intervention took about 12 weeks and fewer than 11 therapist hours.
“Technology assistance likely played an important role in this treatment’s ability to both engage and treat a large number of patients in wide-ranging geographic locations and to achieve a high mean rate of symptom improvement and a high rate of treatment response,” they wrote.
“Teletherapy using video allows people in remote locations to access treatment and to be able to complete, in-session, in vivo exercises in places and situations that are most relevant to, or triggering of, their symptoms.”
THE LARGER TREND
Mental health technology funding increased 139% globally in 2021, compared with 2020, bringing in $5.5 billion, according to a CB Insights report. Meanwhile, mental healthcare makes up a large portion of telehealth utilization in the U.S. Though utilization fell nationally in February, mental health diagnoses still made up more than 64% of telehealth claim lines, according to FAIR Health’s tracker.