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Motive-oriented Internet-based self-help for depression

Applicant Westermann Stefan
Number 177678
Funding scheme Advanced Postdoc.Mobility
Research institution Department of Psychology University of California
Institution of higher education Institution abroad - IACH
Main discipline Psychology
Start/End 01.09.2018 - 31.08.2019
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Keywords (11)

Internet intervention; Graph theory; Individualized treatment; Personalized treatment; Adherence; Avoidance motivation; Approach motivation; Motives; Internet-based self-help; Network; Depression

Lay Summary (German)

Internet-basierte Selbsthilfeprogramme haben sich als Behandlungsoption für Menschen mit Depression als wirksam erwiesen. Im Rahmen des Forschungsprojekts wird überprüft, ob ein auf die individuellen Bedürfnisse von Teilnehmenden abgestimmtes Selbsthilfeprogramm den Behandlungserfolg weiter steigern kann.
Lay summary

Inhalt und Ziel des Forschungsprojekts
Nicht alle Menschen mit Depression, die mit der Teilnahme an einem Internet-basierten Selbsthilfeprogramm beginnen, schliessen dieses auch vollständig ab. Um die Nutzung solcher Programme zu steigern, können die Inhalte und die technische Plattform an die individuellen Charakteristika von Teilnehmenden angepasst werden. Im Rahmen einer sogenannten randomisiert kontrollierten Studie wird in diesem Projekt überprüft, ob die Anzahl der bearbeiteten Einheiten und Arbeitsblätter sowie die Gesamtdauer der aktiven Nutzung durch eine individualisierte Selbsthilfe-Plattform im Vergleich zu einer Standard-Plattform erhöht werden kann und damit auch eine Verbesserung des Behandlungserfolgs einhergeht.

Wissenschaftlicher und gesellschaftlicher Kontext
Das Forschungsprojekt leistet einen Beitrag zur Verbesserung evidenz-basierter Behandlungsoptionen für Menschen mit Depression.

Direct link to Lay Summary Last update: 05.03.2018

Responsible applicant and co-applicants


Do the effects of a self-guided Internet-based intervention for depression wear off when repeated? Results of a randomized-controlled trial (RCT) (Preprint)
Bücker Lara, Schnakenberg Patricia, Karyotaki Eirini, Moritz Steffen, Westermann Stefan (2019), Do the effects of a self-guided Internet-based intervention for depression wear off when repeated? Results of a randomized-controlled trial (RCT) (Preprint), in Journal of Medical Internet Research.


Group / person Country
Types of collaboration
Clinical Neuropsychology Working Group (UKE Hamburg) Germany (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Research Infrastructure

Scientific events

Active participation

Title Type of contribution Title of article or contribution Date Place Persons involved
11. Workshopkongress für Klinische Psychologie und Psychotherapie Poster Motiv-orientierte Internet-basierte Selbsthilfe bei Depression: Eine experimentelle Analog-Studie in einer nicht-klinischen Stichprobe 29.05.2019 Erlangen, Germany Westermann Stefan;


Internet-based interventions for people with depression are effective (Königbauer, Letsch, Doebler, Ebert, & Baumeister, 2017) but are accompanied by frequent dropouts and a high rate of non-adherence (Beatty & Binnion, 2016). Researcher have started to address this problem with personalized treatments, in which the contents of self-help programs are tailored to the participants' characteristics (e.g., comorbidities) - so far with limited success (Pasarelu, Andersson, Bergman Nordgren, & Dobrean, 2017). Drawing on knowledge from psychotherapy research that highlights the importance of the therapeutic process besides specific techniques (e.g., Grosse Holtforth & Castonguay, 2005), this project paves the way for increasing adherence to and reduce dropout from Internet-based treatments. Specifically, the self-help platform that delivers interventions against depression in this project is responsive to the individual motives such as autonomy and affiliation (Caspar, 1998). The project tests whether a personalized, motive-oriented self-help platform increases adherence to an Internet-based self-help interventions for depressive disorder.The study is designed as a randomized controlled trial with three arms and adherence as primary outcome. The personalized, motive-oriented self-help intervention (MOS condition) will be tested against a non-personalized, unresponsive self-help intervention (URS condition) and a waitlist control condition (WL) in a total of 150 participants with a diagnosed depressive disorder. Prior to allocation, participants take part in a 7-day experience sampling assessment that allows the generation of idiographic approach and avoidance motive networks. The two most central approach and avoidance motive serve to personalize the MOS condition in a motive-oriented way. For example, the personalized self-help platform for an individual with a high affiliation motive is able to see the number of other participants that are online, whereas another individual with a high autonomy motive will be able to select and rearrange the order of the self-help modules. The project will be the first that evaluates an Internet intervention for depression that is personalized according to the participants’ approach and avoidance motives. The proposed project will contribute to the minimization of the treatment gap in depression and other psychological disorders, and will advance the personalized treatment approaches in clinical psychology research.