MoodGYM is a cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) based intervention designed to prevent and treat depression. MoodGYM aims to help to identify and overcome problem emotions and to develop good coping skills. The program consists of five modules each taking 20- to 40-minutes to complete, which are completed in order. The modules teach about factors impacting on mood and how to effect change. The course teaches how to identify "warpy" thoughts, develop problem-solving skills, and learn to cope better with life events. The modules are completed at the user's own pace and through quizzes and exercises, feedback is given about mood and what the results mean.
- Service URL:
- Agency Responsible:
- eHub Health.
- Intervention Type:
- Psychological – CBT.
- Course Length:
- Moderate (2-5 modules).
- Support Option:
- Automated only.
- Primary Category:
- Target Audiences:
- Adolescent and Adult.
- English and German.
- Open: With registration.
- Contact Details:
- Research Trials:
- Research RCTs:
- Outcome Summary:
Extensive investigations of MoodGYM provide evidence that it can be effective in reducing symptoms of depression in controlled trials and in real world settings. A meta-analysis carried out in 2017 found the program to be effective in adult populations based on 11 studies for depression symptoms at post-intervention with a small effect size (g = 0.36., 95% CI 0.17 – 0.56) and high heterogeneity (I2 = 78%) (18). Removing the lowest quality studies had little effect on these results, and the results were not influenced by the type of setting (clinical vs non-clinical) or whether the trials were conducted by researchers who had also been involved in the development of the program.
MoodGYM has been evaluated in 13 studies that meet Beacon's criteria for an RCT. Out of these, MoodGYM performed significantly better than the control group in four studies (3, 13, 22, 28). The effects of MoodGYM in reducing symptoms of depression have been shown to persist at 6 and 12-months post-test (e.g., 8). There were mixed results for the nine remaining studies.
In three studies (6 ,9 ,11), MoodGYM was trialled with Australian high school students and was shown to reduce symptoms of depression in males (d = 0.27-0.43). In adolescent girls, MoodGYM produced a significantly faster rate of decline in depressive symptoms compared to a control condition, with a moderate effect size of d = 0.46 evident 20 weeks after the intervention. Girls with high depression scores prior to completing MoodGYM showed the strongest benefits on self-reported depression at follow-up, with a large effect size of d = 0.92. However, a study of MoodGYM with high school students in Norway found no significant difference in depression symptoms for the intervention compared to a control (26).
Three small RCTs of the use of MoodGYM with university students in Australia (12, 14, 29), found that relative to controls, there was no significant difference in depressive symptoms for MoodGYM users (although the MoodGYM program significantly improved anxiety symptoms). There was also no significant different found for depression in an RCT conducted in a clinical setting in Ireland (25), although there was a significant reduction in general psychological distress in participants. A workplace-based RCT of MoodGYM compared to psycho-educational material also found no significant difference in depression for MoodGYM users (27).
The effects of MoodGYM on depression symptoms are better for those who complete more of the course (6). The addition of therapist support, either face to face or via telephone, has been shown to improve completion rates and outcomes (20). The program has also seen positive results on depressive symptoms when used in combination with BluePages, a depression information site (3).
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Research paper citations
(1) Christensen, H., Griffiths, K. M., & Korten, A. (2002). Web-based cognitive behavior therapy: analysis of site usage and changes in depression and anxiety scores. Journal of Medical Internet Research, 4(1), e3.
(2) Christensen, H., Griffiths, K. M., Korten, A. E., Brittliffe, K., & Groves, C. (2004). A comparison of changes in anxiety and depression symptoms of spontaneous users and trial participants of a cognitive behavior therapy website. Journal of Medical Internet Research, 6(4), e46.
(3) Christensen, H., Griffiths, K. M., & Jorm, A. F. (2004). Delivering interventions for depression by using the Internet: Randomised controlled trial. British Medical Journal, 328, 265-268.
(4) Christensen, H., Griffiths, K., Groves, C., & Korten, A. (2006). Free range users and one hit wonders: Community users of an Internet-based cognitive behaviour therapy program. Australian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry, 40, 59-62.
(5) Christensen, H., Griffiths, K. M., Mackinnon, A. J., & Brittliffe, K. (2006). Online randomized controlled trial of brief and full cognitive behaviour therapy for depression. Psychological Medicine, 36, 1737-1746.
(6) O'Kearney, R., Gibson, M., Christensen, H., & Griffiths, K. M. (2006). Effects of a cognitive-behavioural Internet program on depression, vulnerability to depression and stigma in adolescent males: A school-based controlled trial. Cognitive Behaviour Therapy, 35, 43-54.
(7) Griffiths, K. M., Christensen, H., Jorm, A. F., Evans, K., & Groves, C. (2004). Effect of Web-based depression literacy and cognitive-behavioural therapy interventions on stigmatising attitudes to depression: Randomised controlled trial. British Journal of Psychiatry, 185, 342-349.
(8) Mackinnon, A., Griffiths, K. M., & Christensen, H. (2008). Comparative randomised trial of online cognitive–behavioural therapy and an information website for depression:12-month outcomes. The British Journal of Psychiatry, 192, 130-134.
(9) Calear, A. L., Christensen, H., Mackinnon, A., Griffiths, K. M. & O’Kearney, R. (2009). The YouthMood Project: a cluster randomized controlled trial of an online cognitive behavioral program with adolescents. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 77(6), 1021-1032.
(10) Hickie, I. B., Davenport, T. A., Luscombe, G. M. , Moore, M., Griffiths, K. M., & Christensen, H. (2010). Practitioner-supported delivery of internet-based cognitive behaviour therapy: evaluation of the feasibility of conducting a cluster randomised trial. Medical Journal of Australia, 192(11 Suppl), S31-S35.
(11) O'Kearney, R., Kang, K., Christensen, H., & Griffiths, K. (2009). A controlled trial of a school-based Internet program for reducing depressive symptoms in adolescent girls. Depression and Anxiety, 26(1), 65-72.
(12) Sethi, S., Campbell, A. J., Ellis, L. A. (2010). The use of computerized self-help packages to treat adolescent depression and anxiety. Journal of Technology in Human Services, 28(3), 144-160.
(13) Lintvedt, O. K., Griffiths, K. M., Sørensen, K., Ostvik, A. R., Wang, C. E., Eisemann, M., & Waterloo, K. (2011). Evaluating the effectiveness and efficacy of unguided internet-based self-help intervention for the prevention of depression: a randomized controlled trial. Clin Psychol Psychother. 2011 Sep 2. doi: 10.1002/cpp.770. [Epub ahead of print].
(14) Ellis, L., Campbell, A.J., Sethi, S., O'Dea, B.M. (2011) Comparative Randomized Trial of an online cognitive-behavioural therapy program and an online support group for depression and anxiety. Journal of Cyber Therapy & Rehabilitation, 4(4): 461-467.
(15) Farrer, L., Christensen, H., Griffiths, K.M., Mackinnon, A. (2011) Internet-based CBT for depression with and without telephone tracking in a national helpline: randomised controlled trial. PloS one, 6(11): e28099.
(16) Farrer, L., Christensen, H., Griffiths, K.M., Mackinnon, A. (2012) Web-based cognitive behavior therapy for depression with and without telephone tracking in a national helpline: secondary outcomes from a randomized controlled trial. Journal of Medical Internet Research. 14(3): e68
(17) Farrer, L. M., Griffiths, K. M., Christensen, H., Mackinnon, A. J., & Batterham, P. J. (2014). Predictors of adherence and outcome in internet-based cognitive behavior therapy delivered in a telephone counseling setting. Cognitive Therapy and Research, 38(3), 358-367.
(18) Twomey, C. and G. O'Reilly (2017). "Effectiveness of a freely available computerised cognitive behavioural therapy programme (MoodGYM) for depression: Meta-analysis." Aust N Z J Psychiatry 51(3): 260-269.
(19) Yeung, A., F. Wang, F. Feng, J. Zhang, A. Cooper, L. Hong, W. Wang, K. Griffiths, K. Bennett, A. Bennett, J. Alpert and M. Fava (2017). "Outcomes of an online computerized cognitive behavioral treatment program for treating chinese patients with depression: A pilot study." Asian J Psychiatr.
(20) Gilbody, S., S. Brabyn, K. Lovell, D. Kessler, T. Devlin, L. Smith, R. Araya, M. Barkham, P. Bower, C. Cooper, S. Knowles, E. Littlewood, D. A. Richards, D. Tallon, D. White and G. Worthy (2017). "Telephone-supported computerised cognitive-behavioural therapy: REEACT-2 large-scale pragmatic randomised controlled trial." Br J Psychiatry 210(5): 362-367.
(21) Brabyn, S., R. Araya, M. Barkham, P. Bower, C. Cooper, A. Duarte, D. Kessler, S. Knowles, K. Lovell, E. Littlewood, R. Mattock, S. Palmer, J. Pervin, D. Richards, D. Tallon, D. White, S. Walker, G. Worthy and S. Gilbody (2016). "The second Randomised Evaluation of the Effectiveness, cost-effectiveness and Acceptability of Computerised Therapy (REEACT-2) trial: does the provision of telephone support enhance the effectiveness of computer-delivered cognitive behaviour therapy? A randomised controlled trial." Health Technol Assess 20(89): 1-64.
(22) Powell, J., Hamborg, T., Stallard, N., Burls, A., McSorley, J., Bennett, K., ... & Christensen, H. (2013). Effectiveness of a web-based cognitive-behavioral tool to improve mental well-being in the general population: randomized controlled trial. Journal of medical Internet research, 15(1).
(23) Littlewood, E., A. Duarte, C. Hewitt, S. Knowles, S. Palmer, S. Walker, P. Andersen, R. Araya, M. Barkham, P. Bower, S. Brabyn, G. Brierley, C. Cooper, L. Gask, D. Kessler, H. Lester, K. Lovell, U. Muhammad, G. Parry, D. A. Richards, R. Richardson, D. Tallon, P. Tharmanathan, D. White and S. Gilbody (2015). "A randomised controlled trial of computerised cognitive behaviour therapy for the treatment of depression in primary care: the Randomised Evaluation of the Effectiveness and Acceptability of Computerised Therapy (REEACT) trial." Health Technol Assess 19(101): viii, xxi-171.
(24) Gilbody, S., E. Littlewood, C. Hewitt, G. Brierley, P. Tharmanathan, R. Araya, M. Barkham, P. Bower, C. Cooper, L. Gask, D. Kessler, H. Lester, K. Lovell, G. Parry, D. A. Richards, P. Andersen, S. Brabyn, S. Knowles, C. Shepherd, D. Tallon and D. White (2015). "Computerised cognitive behaviour therapy (cCBT) as treatment for depression in primary care (REEACT trial): large scale pragmatic randomised controlled trial." Bmj 351: h5627.
(25) Twomey, C., G. O'Reilly, M. Byrne, M. Bury, A. White, S. Kissane, A. McMahon and N. Clancy (2014). "A randomized controlled trial of the computerized CBT programme, MoodGYM, for public mental health service users waiting for interventions." Br J Clin Psychol 53(4): 433-450.
(26) Lillevoll, K. R., H. C. Vangberg, K. M. Griffiths, K. Waterloo and M. R. Eisemann (2014). "Uptake and adherence of a self-directed internet-based mental health intervention with tailored e-mail reminders in senior high schools in Norway." BMC Psychiatry 14: 14.
(27) Phillips, R., J. Schneider, I. Molosankwe, M. Leese, P. S. Foroushani, P. Grime, P. McCrone, R. Morriss and G. Thornicroft (2014). "Randomized controlled trial of computerized cognitive behavioural therapy for depressive symptoms: effectiveness and costs of a workplace intervention." Psychol Med 44(4): 741-752.
(28) Høifødt, R. S., Lillevoll, K. R., Griffiths, K. M., Wilsgaard, T., Eisemann, M., Waterloo, K., & Kolstrup, N. (2013). The clinical effectiveness of web-based cognitive behavioral therapy with face-to-face therapist support for depressed primary care patients: randomized controlled trial. Journal of medical Internet research, 15(8).
(29) Sethi, S. (2013). Treating youth depression and anxiety: A randomised controlled trial examining the efficacy of computerised versus face‐to‐face cognitive behaviour therapy. Australian Psychologist, 48(4), 249-257.
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