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Occupational impact of internet-delivered cognitive behaviour therapy for depression and anxiety: reanalysis of data from five Australian randomised controlled trials

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The Australian Government has invested about $180 million into online mental health and telephone crisis support services,1 and Australian researchers are international leaders in the development of online mental health programs.2 Internet-delivered cognitive behaviour therapy (iCBT) courses are efficacious for anxiety and depressive disorders (the number needed to treat is about two); they significantly reduce symptoms and disability associated with these disorders.2

Depression and anxiety are associated with high levels of occupational disability.3 They are the leading cause of sickness absence in most developed countries and account for about 35% of disability benefits.4 Left untreated, these disorders can lead to significant costs to employers, government, individuals and society.5

A few studies have shown that treatments for anxiety and depression improve occupational functioning. In depressed individuals, antidepressant medication has been shown to increase work productivity6 and psychodynamic therapy (with or without adjunctive antidepressant medication) has been shown to reduce self-reported absenteeism.7,8