Advantages and disadvantages of online and blended therapy: Replication and extension of findings on psychotherapists' appraisals

Raphael Schuster, Naira Topooco, Antonia Keller, Ella Radvogin, Anton-Rupert Laireiter

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Therapists hold a key role for the uptake of digital mental health interventions (DMHI) within regular care services but have demonstrated cautious attitudes towards such interventions. It is relevant to explore in detail what factors may positively influence therapists' perception when considering DMHI implementation within routine care. We recently assessed therapist views towards Internet-based and blended treatment in Austria (low implementation level). The present study aims at testing the reliability of previous findings, and moreover, it compares therapists' appraisals to a country with advanced DMHI implementation (Sweden). An online survey was conducted February through June of 2019. Respondents were recruited via email and social media. The survey assessed first-hand experience with Internet-based treatment (IT) and blended treatment (BT). To start, the survey presented a short informational video to half of the respondents, then assessed therapists' views on 17 advantages and 13 disadvantages of IT and BT on 6-point Likert scales. In total N = 300 therapists responded to the invitation, of which N = 165 provided full survey data (Germany 114/220, 52%; Sweden 51/80, 64%). German therapists rated the advantages of IT and BT as neutral (IT, M = 3.6; BT, M = 3.8) and to some extent agreed with disadvantages of IT (IT, M = 4.5; BT, M = 3.5). In comparison, Swedish therapists rated significantly greater advantages (IT, M = 4.6; BT, M = 4.5) and less disadvantages (IT, M = 3.2; BT, M = 2.8). Effect sizes ranged from d = 0.89 to d = 1.83; all P's < .001. Those with first-hand experience with DMHI reported more positive appraisals in both countries. No significant effect was found for exposure to the short informational video. The German sample represented essential characteristics of current German therapists; in comparison Swedish respondents skewed towards younger less experienced therapists (P's < .001). Those confounders accounted for a small non-significant proportion of variance (0.1-4.7%). We found that therapists considered blended treatment to have less disadvantages than Internet treatment, and that first-hand experience with DMHI, but not exposure to an acceptance facilitating video clip, predicted greater acceptability on individual level. The responses among German therapists closely resembled findings from our preceding study in Austria, indicating that reliable results can be achieved in small survey studies if sample and population parameters correspond. Swedish therapists held significantly more favorable attitudes towards both interventions. The comparison between countries, however, is limited by a number of potential confounding variables.
Original languageEnglish
Article number100326
Number of pages12
JournalInternet Interventions
Early online date7 May 2020
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 7 May 2020

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© 2020 The Authors.

Fields of Science and Technology Classification 2012

  • 501 Psychology

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