TUESDAY, July 16, 2019 (HealthDay News) — A cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) program is effective in treating male patients with internet and computer game addiction, according to a study published online July 10 in JAMA Psychiatry.

For the study, Klaus Wölfling, Ph.D., from the Johannes Gutenberg-University Mainz in Germany, and colleagues recruited a total of 143 men from four specialized outpatient clinics. The authors limited participants to men because men comprise 90 percent of the patients treated or diagnosed in outpatient clinics for behavioral addictions. Participants were randomly assigned to either short-term treatment for internet and computer game addiction (STICA; 72 participants) or a wait-list control (WLC) group (71 participants). Participants then underwent 15 weekly group CBT sessions and up to eight individual sessions interspersed throughout the program.

The researchers found that 69.4 percent of participants in the STICA group showed remission compared with 23.9 percent in the WLC group, as measured by the Assessment of Internet and Computer Game Addiction Self-report (AICA-S). In a logistic regression analysis, remission in the STICA group was higher than that seen in the WLC group (odds ratio, 10.10) after accounting for internet addiction baseline severity, comorbidity, treatment center, and age. Compared with the WLC group, effect sizes at treatment termination of STICA were strong for AICA-S (d = 1.19), time spent online on weekdays (d = 0.88), psychosocial functioning (d = 0.64), and depression (d = 0.67).

“Short-term CBT treatment in outpatient settings addressing internet and computer game addiction is effective,” the authors write. “Thus, STICA might be used as a benchmark as a nonpharmacologic intervention and serve as a treatment as usual condition in upcoming trials.”

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