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Feasibility of a blended group treatment (bGT) for major depression: uncontrolled interventional study in a university setting
  1. Raphael Schuster1,
  2. Isabelle Fichtenbauer2,
  3. Verena Maria Sparr2,
  4. Thomas Berger3,
  5. Anton-Rupert Laireiter1,2
  1. 1 Department of Psychology, University of Salzburg, Salzburg, Austria
  2. 2 Department of Applied Psychology: Health, Development and Promotion, Faculty of Psychology, University of Vienna, Wien, Austria
  3. 3 Department of Clinical Psychology and Psychotherapy, University of Bern, Bern, Switzerland
  1. Correspondence to Dr Raphael Schuster; raphael.schuster{at}


Objective This study investigated the feasibility of a novel blended (face-to-face and computer-based) group intervention for the reduction of depressive symptoms in major depression.

Design Patient-centred uncontrolled interventional study.

Setting University setting in a general community sample. A multimodal recruitment strategy (public health centres and public areas) was applied.

Participants Based on independent interviews, 26 participants, diagnosed with major depressive disorder (81% female; 23% comorbidity >1 and 23% comorbidity >2), entered treatment.

Intervention Acceptance and mindfulness based, as well as self-management and resource-oriented psychotherapy principles served as the theoretical basis for the low-threshold intervention. The blended format included face-to-face sessions, complemented with multimedia presentations and a platform featuring videos, online work sheets, an unguided group chat and remote therapist–patient communication.

Main outcome measures The Center for Epidemiological Studies-Depression scale and the 12-item General Health Questionnaire.

Results Large to very large within group effect sizes were found on self-reported depression (F (2, 46.37)=25.69, p<0.001; d=1.80), general health (F (2,46.73)=11.47, p<0.001; d=1.32), personal resources (F (2,43.36)=21.17, p<0.001; d=0.90) and mindfulness (F (2,46.22)=9.40, p<0.001; d=1.12) after a follow-up period of 3 months. Treatment satisfaction was high, and 69% ranked computer and multimedia use as a therapeutic factor. Furthermore, participants described treatment intensification as important advantage of the blended format. Half of the patients (48%) would have preferred more time for personal exchange.

Conclusion The investigated blended group format seems feasible for the reduction of depressive symptoms in major depression. The development of blended interventions can benefit from assuring that highly structured treatments actually meet patients’ needs. As a next step, the intervention should be tested in comparative trials in routine care.

Trial registration number DRKS00010894; Pre-results.

  • blended therapy
  • blended group therapy
  • online interventions
  • group therapy
  • depression
  • therapeutic factors

This is an Open Access article distributed in accordance with the Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial (CC BY-NC 4.0) license, which permits others to distribute, remix, adapt, build upon this work non-commercially, and license their derivative works on different terms, provided the original work is properly cited and the use is non-commercial. See:

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  • Contributors RS: design, acquisition, analysis, drafting and revising. VMS: acquisition and analysis. IF: acquisition and analysis. TB: drafting and revising. A-RL: design, drafting and revising.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient consent Not required.

  • Ethics approval Ethical Review Board, University of Vienna, Ref-Nr:00194.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

  • Data sharing statement Extra data can be accessed via the Dryad data repository at with the doi:10.5061/dryad.3rp58

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