Exposure-based cognitive–behavioural therapy via the internet and as bibliotherapy for somatic symptom disorder and illness anxiety disorder: randomised controlled trial

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Abstract

Background

In DSM-5 two new diagnoses, somatic symptom disorder (SSD) and illness anxiety disorder (IAD), have replaced DSM-IV hypochondriasis. There are no previous treatment studies for these disorders. Cognitive–behavioural therapy (CBT) delivered as therapist-guided or unguided internet treatment or as unguided bibliotherapy could be used to increase treatment accessibility.

Aims

To investigate the effect of CBT delivered as guided internet treatment (ICBT), unguided internet treatment (U-ICBT) and as unguided bibliotherapy.

Method

A randomised controlled trial (RCT) where participants (n = 132) with a diagnosis of SSD or IAD were randomised to ICBT, U-ICBT, bibliotherapy or to a control condition on a waiting list (trial registration: Clinicaltrials.gov identifier NCT01966705).

Results

Compared with the control condition, all three treatment groups made large and significant improvements on the primary outcome Health Anxiety Inventory (between-group d at post-treatment was 0.80–1.27).

Conclusions

ICBT, U-ICBT and bibliotherapy can be highly effective in the treatment of SSD and IAD. This is the first study showing that these new DSM-5 disorders can be effectively treated.

Declaration of interest

None.

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