Weineland S, Ribbegårdh R, Kivi M, Bygdell A, Larsson A, Vernmark K, Lilja JL
Internet Interv 22 (-) 100356 [2020-12-00; online 2020-12-01]
To address the increasing mental health problems among young people, health care needs to broaden the spectrum of interventions and increase access to care. One particularly promising first-line intervention is cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) delivered via the Internet (iCBT). The outbreak of the Coronavirus disease -2019 (COVID -19) has made the need for solid digital mental health care systems clear. This is the first published study exploring the transition among therapists of working with face-to-face treatment to using iCBT for youths suffering from anxiety treated in primary care. Fourteen primary care therapists were included in the study. Semi-structured interviews (n = 26) were conducted on two occasions: before starting to use iCBT for youths, and at a subsequent follow-up after gaining treatment experience. Data was summarized into thematic categories. The overarching themes that were identified were: Attitudes to iCBT before and after implementation; Experiences of treatment delivery; Characteristics of "the right patient;" and The role of the digital therapist. The participants generally had positive attitudes to iCBT for youths and saw it as a valuable alternative to face-to-face treatments. However, they identified challenges related to patient selection, and to motivating patients and maintaining a therapeutic relationship through mainly written communication. The participants appreciated the increase in variety that iCBT brought to their schedules, and also experienced iCBT as a relief from common challenges of therapeutic work, such as emotional stress and high cognitive demands. The participating therapists' positive experiences support the introduction of iCBT for youths in routine primary care.