Original article

Scand J Work Environ Health 2014;40(6):582-596    pdf full text

doi:10.5271/sjweh.3449

Efficacy of an internet-based problem-solving training for teachers: results of a randomized controlled trial

by Ebert DD, Lehr D, Boß L, Riper H, Cuijpers P, Andersson G, Thiart H, Heber E, Berking M

Objective The primary purpose of this randomized controlled trial (RCT) was to evaluate the efficacy of internet-based problem-solving training (iPST) for employees in the educational sector (teachers) with depressive symptoms. The results of training were compared to those of a waitlist control group (WLC).

Methods One-hundred and fifty teachers with elevated depressive symptoms (Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression Scale, CES-D ≥16) were assigned to either the iPST or WLC group. The iPST consisted of five lessons, including problem-solving and rumination techniques. Symptoms were assessed before the intervention began and in follow-up assessments after seven weeks, three months, and six months. The primary outcome was depressive symptom severity (CES-D). Secondary outcomes included general and work-specific self-efficacy, perceived stress, pathological worries, burnout symptoms, general physical and mental health, and absenteeism.

Results iPST participants displayed a significantly greater reduction in depressive symptoms after the intervention (d=0.59, 95% CI 0.26–0.92), after three months (d=0.37, 95% CI 0.05–0.70) and after six months (d=0.38, 95% CI 0.05–0.70) compared to the control group. The iPST participants also displayed significantly higher improvements in secondary outcomes. However, workplace absenteeism was not significantly affected.

Conclusion iPST is effective in reducing symptoms of depression among teachers. Disseminated on a large scale, iPST could contribute to reducing the burden of stress-related mental health problems among teachers. Future studies should evaluate iPST approaches for use in other working populations.

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