Integrated therapist and online CBT for depression in primary care (INTERACT): study protocol for a multi-centre randomised controlled trial

Debbie Tallon, Laura Thomas, Sally Brabyn, Brian Chi Fung Ching, Jane Sungmin Hahn, Berry Jude, Mekeda X Logan, Alex Burrage, Fiona Fox, Simon Gilbody, Paul Lanham, Glyn Lewis, Jinshuo Li, Stephanie J MacNeill, Irwin Nazareth, Steve Parrott, Tim J Peters, Roz Shafran, Katrina Turner, Chris WilliamsDavid Kessler, Nicola Wiles

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) is an effective treatment for depression. Self-directed online CBT interventions have made CBT more accessible at a lower cost. However, adherence is often poor and, in the absence of therapist support, effects are modest and short-term. Delivering CBT online using instant messaging is clinically and cost-effective; however, most existing platforms are limited to instant messaging sessions, without the support of between-session “homework” activities. The INTERACT intervention integrates online CBT materials and ‘high-intensity’ therapist-led CBT, delivered remotely in real-time. The INTERACT trial will evaluate this novel integration in terms of clinical and cost-effectiveness, and acceptability to therapists and clients.

Pragmatic, two parallel-group multi-centre individually randomised controlled trial, with 434 patients recruited from primary care practices in Bristol, London and York. Participants with depression will be identified via General Practitioner record searches and direct referrals. Inclusion criteria: aged ≥ 18 years; score ≥ 14 on Beck Depression Inventory (BDI-II); meeting International Classification of Diseases (ICD-10) criteria for depression. Exclusion criteria: alcohol or substance dependency in the past year; bipolar disorder; schizophrenia; psychosis; dementia; currently under psychiatric care for depression (including those referred but not yet seen); cannot complete questionnaires unaided or requires an interpreter; currently receiving CBT/other psychotherapy; received high-intensity CBT in the past four years; participating in another intervention trial; unwilling/unable to receive CBT via computer/laptop/smartphone. Eligible participants will be randomised to integrated CBT or usual care. Integrated CBT utilises the standard Beckian intervention for depression and comprises nine live therapist-led sessions, with (up to) a further three if clinically appropriate. The first session is 60–90 min via videocall, with subsequent 50-min sessions delivered online, using instant messaging. Participants allocated integrated CBT can access integrated online CBT resources (worksheets/information sheets/videos) within and between sessions.

Outcome assessments at 3-, 6-, 9- and 12-month post-randomisation. The primary outcome is the Beck Depression Inventory (BDI-II) score at 6 months (as a continuous variable). A nested qualitative study and health economic evaluation will be conducted.

If clinically and cost-effective, this model of integrated CBT could be introduced into existing psychological services, increasing access to, and equity of, CBT provision.

Trial registration
ISRCTN, ISRCTN13112900. Registered on 11/11/2020. Currently recruiting participants. Trial registration data are presented in Table 1.
Original languageEnglish
Article number421
Publication statusPublished - 20 Jun 2023

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