Psychother Psychosom Med Psychol. 2021 Nov 24. doi: 10.1055/a-1663-6747. Online ahead of print.


OBJECTIVE: In order to maintain the effects achieved during the psychosomatic rehabilitation, according aftercare is indicated for most rehabilitation patients. Due to the current low supply of aftercare psychotherapists (so-called aftercare therapists) licensed by the German Pension Insurance web-based aftercare provides an equivalent alternative to analogue (in person) offers. This study clarifies which characteristics indicate that web-based aftercare is particularly recommended and how web-based formats are evaluated by participants, especially with regard to the therapeutic relationship.

METHODS: 142 psychosomatic rehabilitation patients were randomly assigned to analogue aftercare or web-based aftercare if a service close to their home was available (equivalence study design). Test variables were collected by questionnaires and analyzed stratified for age and gender.

RESULTS: For male participants, there are no significant differences between the two aftercare formats. Women appear to have lower long-term depression scores when participating in web-based aftercare. Participants till the age 50 benefit significantly more from web-based aftercare than rehabilitants above age 50, The quality of the therapeutic relationship is rated equally well in both aftercare formats.

DISCUSSION: Particularly in view of the increasing digitization of healthcare in times of the corona pandemic, web-based aftercare services offer the possibility of providing patients with aftercare independent of the availability of analogue-services and with the same benefits as analog therapies. Demographic factors such as age and sex must be taken into account when determining the indication.

CONCLUSION: Therapists should recommend web-based aftercare especially for younger patients and for women, while men and older patients can be recommended both services equally. Therapists who offer web-based aftercare should be trained in advance on technical and content-related aspects, as was done in the present work.

PMID:34820818 | DOI:10.1055/a-1663-6747