Computerised Cognitive Behavioural Therapy for Psychological Distress in Patients with Physical Illnesses: A Systematic Review

  • Andrew McCombie
  • Richard Gearry
  • Jane Andrews
  • Antonina Mikocka-Walus
  • Roger Mulder


Whilst cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT) has been shown to improve outcomes in patients with chronic physical illnesses, there are barriers to its implementation which computerised CBT (CCBT) may overcome. We reviewed all studies of CCBT for treating psychological distress (PD) in chronic physical illness populations. Systematic searches were undertaken in July, 2013. All articles about CCBT for PD secondary to physical illness were included. Twenty-nine studies (thirty papers) were included. Overall, the quality of evidence was poor. Studies about irritable bowel syndrome demonstrated the best evidence. The evidence for CCBT in the treatment of PD in physical illness patients is modest, perhaps due to the seldom use of PD screening. More robust research designs including longer follow up periods are required. Nevertheless, no studies reported a negative effect of CCBT on any outcome measures.


Cognitive behaviour therapy Computerized Disease Internet Psychotherapy 



Andrew McCombie is supported by a University of Otago Doctoral Scholarship and is a recipient of a Todd Foundation Award for Excellence.

Conflict of interest

Andrew McCombie, Richard Gearry, Jane Andrews, Antonina Mikocka-Walus and Roger Mulder declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Human and Animal Rights and Informed Consent

No animal or human studies were carried out by the authors for this article.

Supplementary material

10880_2015_9420_MOESM1_ESM.docx (78 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 77 kb)


References marked with an asterisk indicate studies included in the review

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Andrew McCombie
    • 1
  • Richard Gearry
    • 1
  • Jane Andrews
    • 2
    • 3
  • Antonina Mikocka-Walus
    • 4
  • Roger Mulder
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of MedicineUniversity of OtagoChristchurchNew Zealand
  2. 2.Department of Gastroenterology and HepatologyRoyal Adelaide HospitalAdelaideAustralia
  3. 3.School of MedicineUniversity of AdelaideAdelaideAustralia
  4. 4.Department of Health SciencesUniversity of YorkYorkUK

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