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Man vs. machine: A meta-analysis on the added value of human support in text-based internet treatments (“e-therapy”) for mental disorders
Clinical Psychology Review  (IF11.397),  Pub Date : 2022-06-09, DOI: 10.1016/j.cpr.2022.102179
J.A. Koelen, A. Vonk, A. Klein, L. de Koning, P. Vonk, S. de Vet, R. Wiers

Guided internet-based treatment is more efficacious than completely unguided or self-guided internet-based treatment, yet within the spectrum of guidance, little is known about the added value of human support compared to more basic forms of guidance. The primary aims of this meta-analysis were: (1) to examine whether human guidance was more efficacious than technological guidance in text-based internet treatments (“e-therapy”) for mental disorders, and (2) whether more intensive human guidance outperformed basic forms of human guidance. PsycINFO, PubMed and Web of Science were systematically searched for randomized controlled trials that directly compared various types and degrees of online guidance. Thirty-one studies, totaling 6215 individuals, met inclusion criteria. Results showed that human guidance was slightly more efficacious than technological guidance, both in terms of symptom reduction (g = 0.11; p < .01) and adherence (0.26 < g < 0.29; p's < 0.01). On the spectrum of human support, results were slightly more favorable for regular guidance compared to optional guidance, but only in terms of adherence (OR = 1.89, g = 0.35; p < .05). Higher qualification of online counselors was not associated with efficacy. These findings extend and refine previous reports on guided and unguided online treatments.