Implementing guided ICBT for chronic pain and fatigue: A qualitative evaluation among therapists and managers by p in Internet Interventions
Volume 18, December 2019 []


  • ICBT for chronic somatic conditions such as pain and fatigue can overcome current barriers to provide patients with evidence-based psychological care
  • Implementing ICBT in mental health care has been found to be challenging on many levels
  • This study uses the Consolidated Framework for Implementation Research to evaluate an implementation project on ICBT for chronic pain and fatigue
  • Therapists and managers were interviewed and provided an extensive overview of key facilitating and hindering factors to adopt ICBT in daily clinical practice
  • Some key factors are “find support from all stakeholders”, “Align goals, expectations and skills”, and “create a feeling of ownership”.


Research abstract:

Internet-based cognitive behavioural therapy (ICBT) for chronic pain and chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) has a high potential to increase the number of patients who can receive an evidence based treatment aimed to reduce symptoms and/or disability and to lower burden on (mental) health care. However, implementing a new behaviour-change intervention, and especially an online intervention, has shown to be a challenge. This study aimed to identify factors influencing the implementation process of ICBT for chronic pain and CFS in mental health care.

A qualitative study using semi-structured interviews with therapists and managers from twelve mental health care clinics was conducted. Questions and analysis were guided by the Consolidated Framework for Implementation Research (CFIR), covering five domains: (1) the implemented intervention, (2) individual characteristics of the users, (3) the inner setting of implementation, (4) the outer setting, and (5) the implementation process.

In all five domains important facilitators and barriers were found. Key themes were: (1) the quality of the content, its perceived effectiveness and usability, (2) the attitude, self-efficacy and ability to learn new skills among therapists, and motivation to start online treatment among patients, (3) internal communication within a team, existing workload, and top-down support from the management, (4) availability of reimbursement options and marketing strategies, and (5) involvement of all key stakeholders, steering towards independence of the implementation sites during the process and adequate training of therapists.

This study provides insight in the challenge of implementing ICBT for chronic pain and CFS in daily clinical practice. Several lessons can be learned from the interviews with therapists and managers which can also be more broadly applied to (ICBT) implementation projects in general. Development of practical tools to support the implementation process would be a valuable next step to overcome certain challenges at forehand and to properly prepare for those expected to come along.

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