Efficacy of an unguided internet-based self-help intervention for social anxiety disorder in university students: A randomized controlled trial

Fanny Kählke*, Thomas Berger, Ava Schulz, Harald Baumeister, Matthias Berking, Randy P. Auerbach, Ronny Bruffaerts, Pim Cuijpers, Ronald C. Kessler, David Daniel Ebert

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review

Abstract

OBJECTIVES: Internet- and mobile-based interventions (IMIs) offer the opportunity to deliver mental health treatments on a large scale. This randomized controlled trial evaluated the efficacy of an unguided IMI (StudiCare SAD) for university students with social anxiety disorder (SAD). METHODS: University students (N = 200) diagnosed with SAD were randomly assigned to an IMI or a waitlist control group (WLC) with full access to treatment as usual. StudiCare SAD consists of nine sessions. The primary outcome was SAD symptoms at posttreatment (10 weeks), assessed via the Social Phobia Scale (SPS) and the Social Interaction Anxiety Scale (SIAS). Secondary outcomes included depression, quality of life, fear of positive evaluation, general psychopathology, and interpersonal problems. RESULTS: Results indicated moderate to large effect sizes in favor of StudiCare SAD compared with WLC for SAD at posttest for the primary outcomes (SPS: d = 0.76; SIAS: d = 0.55, p < 0.001). Effects on all secondary outcomes were significant and in favor of the intervention group. CONCLUSION: StudiCare SAD has proven effective in reducing SAD symptoms in university students. Providing IMIs may be a promising way to reach university students with SAD at an early stage with an effective treatment. © 2019 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd. KEYWORDS: internet-based treatment; social anxiety disorder; unguided self-help; university students
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere1766
Pages (from-to)1-12
Number of pages12
JournalInternational Journal of Methods in Psychiatric Research
Volume28
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 27 Jan 2019

Keywords

  • internet-based treatment
  • social anxiety disorder
  • unguided self-help
  • university students

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