By Rob Goodier
NEW YORK—Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) delivered by video call appears to inspire as much confidence among patients with insomnia as does the traditional face-to-face approach, according to preliminary research.
"Patients who are seen via telemedicine can feel as supported by their therapist as if they were in the office," co-investigator Dr. Deirdre Conroy of the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor told Reuters Health by email. "Many areas of the country do not have access to specialized therapists for insomnia treatment. Telemedicine may provide this access."
The study, presented June 10 at the Sleep 2019 conference in San Antonio, Texas, randomly allocated 38 patients to six weekly sessions of remote CBT or face-to-face CBT.
The researchers used Working Alliance Inventory evaluations to quantify therapy tasks, goals and the development of a bond on a 0-60 scale. Average scores ranged 34-60 in the telemedicine group and 40-60 in the face-to-face group, with no statistically significant difference.
The Therapy Evaluation Questionnaire assessed the patients' opinions of the therapist's warmth and skill, and also found no significant differences between the two groups.
CBT is a rising trend in insomnia treatment, and a telemedicine approach could save hassle and expense. Future research will investigate cost and other resources that telemedicine may save, Dr. Conroy said.
"The study by Conroy et al. suggests that telehealth is a promising alternative to face-to-face CBT (for insomnia) as patients and their providers develop a strong alliance regardless of modality," Dr. Jennifer Martin, a specialist in behavioral sleep medicine at the University of California, Los Angeles, who was not involved in the research, told Reuters Health by email.
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