Background: Research has shown that computerised cognitive behaviour therapy(cCBT) can be effective for the treatment of depression and anxiety in adults, although the outcomes with children and adolescents are unclear.
Aims: To systematically review the literature on the effectiveness of cCBT for the prevention and treatment of depression and anxiety in children and adolescents.
Method: EMBASE, PsychInfo and Pubmed were searched using specific terms and inclusion criteria for cCBT studies involving young people under the age of 18. A hand search was also conducted and the authors were contacted to identify additional papers.
Results: Ten studies met the inclusion criteria. These included case series and randomised controlled trials concerned with both treatment and prevention. Six different software packages were described which varied in length and the nature and extent of professional contact and supervision. All studies reported reductions in clinical symptoms and also improvements in variables such as behaviour, self-esteem and cognitions. Satisfaction with treatment was moderate to high from both children and parents, though levels of drop out and non-completion were often high.
Conclusions: Additional randomised controlled trials are required, as the literature is currently limited. However preliminary evidence suggests that cCBT is an acceptable and effective intervention for this age group.