Background: Web-based therapies hold great promise to increase accessibility and reduce costs of delivering mental health care; however, uptake in routine settings has been low.
Objective: Our objective in this review was to summarize what is known about health care professionals’ perceptions of the barriers to and facilitators of the implementation of web-based psychological treatments in routine care of adults in health care settings.
Methods: We searched 5 major databases (MEDLINE, EMBASE, PsycINFO, CINAHL, and the Cochrane Library) for qualitative, quantitative, or mixed-methods studies exploring health professionals’ views on computer- or internet-based psychological treatment programs. We coded included articles for risk of bias and extracted data using a prepiloted extraction sheet.
Results: We identified 29 eligible articles: 14 qualitative, 11 quantitative, and 4 mixed methods. We identified the following themes: patient factors, health professional factors, the therapeutic relationship, therapy factors, organizational and system factors, and models of care. Health professionals supported web-based therapies only for patients with relatively straightforward, low-risk diagnoses, strong motivation and engagement, high computer literacy and access, and low need for tailored content. They perceived flexibility with timing and location as advantages of web-based therapy, but preferred blended therapy to facilitate rapport and allow active monitoring and follow-up of patients. They emphasized the need for targeted training and organizational support to manage changed workflows. Health professionals were concerned about the confidentiality and security of client data for web-based programs, suggesting that clear and transparent protocols need to be in place to reassure health professionals before they will be willing to refer.
Conclusions: Without health professionals’ support, many people will not access web-based therapies. To increase uptake, it is important to ensure that health professionals receive education, familiarization, and training to support them in incorporating web-based therapies into their practice, and to design systems that support health professionals in this new way of working with patients and addressing their concerns.