A feasibility trial of an internet-delivered psychological intervention to manage mental health and functional outcomes in neurological disorders

Elsevier, Journal of Psychosomatic Research, Volume 136, September 2020
Gandy M., Karin E., McDonald S., Meares S., Scott A.J., Titov N. et al.
Objective: Mental health and cognitive difficulties are highly prevalent across neurological disorders and significantly contribute to poorer patient outcomes. Unfortunately, access to effective psychological services for these comorbidities are limited. To determine whether a novel transdiagnostic internet-delivered psychological intervention, the Wellbeing Neuro Course, was feasible, acceptable and efficacious a single-group feasibility open trial was employed. Methods: The Wellbeing Neuro Course, targets mental health and cognitive difficulties, across a variety of neurological disorders. It is comprised of six online lessons, based on Cognitive Behavioural Therapy and Compensatory Cognitive Rehabilitation, delivered over 10 weeks and provided with weekly support from a mental health professional via email and telephone. 105 adults with diagnoses of either epilepsy, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson's disease and/or acquired brain injury, underwent the intervention. Results: The intervention was found to be highly acceptable with high intervention completion and levels of satisfaction (>95%). There was evidence of clinically significant improvements in primary outcomes (within-group Cohen's d; average reductions) of depression (d = 0.93; avg. reduction ≥36%), anxiety (ds = 0.66, avg. reduction ≥36%), and disability (ds ≥ 0.49; avg. reduction ≥23%) at post-intervention, maintained at 3-month follow-up. For secondary outcomes there were significant improvements in fatigue severity and perceived cognitive difficulties of attention, planning and prospective memory. Findings were achieved with minimal clinician time, highlighting its public health potential. Conclusion: This open trial provides preliminary evidence the Wellbeing Neuro Course is acceptable and reduces symptoms of depression, anxiety and disability in neurological disorders. Future controlled trials of the intervention are now needed. Trial registration: ACTRN12617000581369.