Danielle Earis

Patient perspectives of internet-delivered cognitive behavioural therapy for psychosocial issues post-spinal cord injury

Honours Thesis Results, Danielle Earis 2018

Background: Individuals with a spinal cord injury (SCI) confront numerous physical and psychological adjustments. Many report clinically significant depression and anxiety disorders post-SCI; thus, attention to psychological distress is crucial. Cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT) has been shown to be effective in reducing anxiety and depression. Despite the availability of treatment, there are barriers such as accessibility, cost, and transport to appointments. Internet-delivered CBT (ICBT) can increase access to psychological services.

Purpose: The purpose of this study is (a) to evaluate patient perspectives on the acceptability of an eight-week guided ICBT course (Chronic Conditions Course for Persons with SCI) and (b) to gain understanding of SCI experiences that may impact ICBT.

Method: Semi-structured interviews were conducted with patients (n = 8). The interviews were audio-recorded, transcribed verbatim, and examined by means of thematic analysis. Emerging themes were summarised and explored.

Results: Patient comments were organized into three broad categories: SCI experience, ICBT experience, and ICBT outcomes. Interviews provided insight into SCI outcomes and support ICBT acceptability with identified strengths (e.g., accessibility, flexibility, guided support). Suggested changes included improved breadth of case stories, course timeframe, and more support from the guide.

Implications: This research provides a better understanding of ICBT as an acceptable treatment for psychosocial issues post-SCI. Patient feedback provided valuable information for improving and tailoring the ICBT course to the SCI population and in understanding SCI experiences.