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Tailored online cognitive behavioural therapy with or without therapist support calls to target psychological distress in adults receiving haemodialysis: a feasibility randomised controlled trial

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)61-70
JournalJournal of Psychosomatic Research
Early online date21 Sep 2017
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2017


King's Authors



Psychological distress is prevalent in haemodialysis (HD) patients yet access to psychotherapy remains limited. This study assessed the feasibility and acceptability of online cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT) tailored for HD patients, with or without therapist support, for managing psychological distress.


This feasibility randomised controlled trial recruited patients from a UK HD centre. Following psychological distress screens, patients with mild-moderate psychological distress (Patient Health Questionnaire PHQ-9; score: 5–19 and/or Generalised Anxiety Disorder; GAD-7 score: 5–14) who met remaining inclusion criteria were approached for consent. Consenters were individually randomised (1:1) to online-CBT or online-CBT plus three therapist support calls. Outcomes included recruitment, retention, and adherence rates. Exploratory change analyses were performed for: psychological distress, quality of life (QoL), illness perceptions, and costs. The statistician was blinded to allocation.

182 (44%) out of 410 patients approached completed psychological distress screens. 26% found screening unacceptable; a further 30% found it unfeasible. Psychological distress was detected in 101 (55%) patients, 60 of these met remaining inclusion criteria. The primary reason for ineligibility was poor computer literacy (N = 17, 53%). Twenty-five patients were randomised to the supported (N = 18) or unsupported arm (N = 7); 92% were retained at follow-up. No differences in psychological distress or cost-effectiveness were observed. No trial adverse events occurred.


Online CBT appears feasible but only for computer literate patients who identify with the label psychological distress. A definitive trial using the current methods for psychological distress screening and online care delivery is unfeasible.

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