Study finds older adults can benefit from digital therapy

A new study challenges the idea that online health technology is just for the 20- or 30-somethings. Recently, a study set to be published in the International Journal of Aging and Society in December, concluded that in this research, internet-enabled cognitive behavioral therapy (IECBT) was an effective method of treatment for older people experiencing anxiety and depression. The study also found a larger percentage of older men signing up for the therapy than younger men. 

“This is an important study as it confirms that digital health is not just for millennials and shows how technology is being embraced by older people too,” Sarah Bateup, co-author of the study and chief clinical officer at Ieso Digital Health, whose technology was used in the study, said in a statement. “Online therapy (IECBT) offers an opportunity to reach older adults who are less likely to be referred for psychological therapy by their general practitioner. Older people are much more vulnerable to mental health problems compared to younger adults. Two out of 10 older men (22 percent) and almost one third of older women (28 percent) are affected by depression, compared to one in five adults in the general population.”

The study was a collaboration between Anglia Ruskin University, a university in the East of England and and Ieso, a UK company that delivers online therapy. 

Participants in the study were either referred by their care provider or self-referred. Each participant filled out a comprehensive self-assessment and were signed to a therapist that triaged and diagnosed the participants. 

In the study, IECBT mirrored face-to-face therapy and involved chat-based communication between the patient and the therapist, taking place in a secure therapy room. All of the transcripts were encrypted and held on a secure site so that the patient and therapist could access them at anytime.

The company had a total of 12,044 patients that were over 18 years old between Q1 2014 and Q3 2016,…

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