Busy schedules and lingering mental health stigmas are just a few of the many factors that contribute to the delay or utilization of cognitive behavioral therapies (CBT). The American Psychological Association describes CBT as a psychological treatment to improve the functioning and quality of life. CBT interventions involve efforts to change thinking and behavioral patterns. This can include the recognition of unhealthy thinking/behaviors, coping with them through problem-solving skills, and ultimately relieving the burden of symptoms with a calm mind and relaxed body. It has been proven through research to be just as effective, or more effective depending on the circumstances, when compared to other types of psychological therapies – including medications for mental health conditions. Society is now at a tipping point where mental health concerns are on the rise and new ways of implementing care are being created. Recently through technological intervention, the University of Illinois published a study which takes down the previously listed barriers to reach critical CBT care.
The University of Illinois held a study where kidney dialysis patients with diagnosed depression, were engaged in technology-based psychological exercises during the time of their scheduled dialysis treatments. After the patient’s dialysis session began, they were given tablets to log-on to the study’s website. Once signed in they would read material, watch videos, and complete exercises which promoted psychological well-being. Modules lasted between 20 and 30 minutes and covered topics regarding personal strength and gratitude. The websites material even taught the patients to use positive reappraisal to interpret life events. At the start of every week a new skill was presented on the website, and the following days they practiced those skills and created plans to utilize them in their daily life.
CBT promotes emotions and outlooks that help alleviate depressive symptoms and can be used with patients with various comorbidities, which is the simultaneous presence of more than one disease, condition, or illness, in a patient. As for the kidney dialysis patients in the study, they presented lower scores on their depressive symptoms assessment and an increase in scores for quality of life, social interactions, emotional well-being, and physical vigor.
The increase in research on this particular topic has proven that by implementing technology for Cognitive Based Therapy, positive and notable results are produced. Taking away the face-to-face therapy is shown to be beneficial for some individuals when the session is done electronically through a mobile device. This not only exposes patients who would normally withhold from seeking treatment, but this also gives healthcare providers a larger number of patients to effectively treat. Hospitals and treatment centers should use tablets and mobile devices to provide CBT care, and use this tool to improve the wellbeing of their patients.
Anthony Calzetta-Raymond is a current graduate student at the George Washington University, Milken Institute School for Public Health. At Milken, Anthony is in the Public Health Communication and Marketing masters program. Anthony is passionate about the marketing and communication of health products, health devices, as well as healthy lifestyle promotions.