Background: Procrastination, to voluntarily delay an intended course of action despite expecting to be worse-off for the delay, is a persistent behavior pattern that can cause major psychological suffering. Approximately half of the student population and 15%-20% of the adult population are presumed having substantial difficulties due to chronic and recurrent procrastination in their everyday life. However, preconceptions and a lack of knowledge restrict the availability of adequate care. Cognitive behavior therapy (CBT) is often considered treatment of choice, although no clinical trials have previously been carried out.
Objective: The aim of this study will be to test the effects of CBT for procrastination, and to investigate whether it can be delivered via the Internet.
Methods: Participants will be recruited through advertisements in newspapers, other media, and the Internet. Only people residing in Sweden with access to the Internet and suffering from procrastination will be included in the study. A randomized controlled trial with a sample size of 150 participants divided into three groups will be utilized. The treatment group will consist of 50 participants receiving a 10-week CBT intervention with weekly therapist contact. A second treatment group with 50 participants receiving the same treatment, but without therapist contact, will also be employed. The intervention being used for the current study is derived from a self-help book for procrastination written by one of the authors (AR). It includes several CBT techniques commonly used for the treatment of procrastination (eg, behavioral activation, behavioral experiments, stimulus control, and psychoeducation on motivation and different work methods). A control group consisting of 50 participants on a wait-list control will be used to evaluate the effects of the CBT intervention. For ethical reasons, the participants in the control group will gain access to the same intervention following the 10-week treatment period, albeit without therapist contact.
Results: The current study is believed to result in three important findings. First, a CBT intervention is assumed to be beneficial for people suffering from problems caused by procrastination. Second, the degree of therapist contact will have a positive effect on treatment outcome as procrastination can be partially explained as a self-regulatory failure. Third, an Internet based CBT intervention is presumed to be an effective way to administer treatment for procrastination, which is considered highly important, as the availability of adequate care is limited. The current study is therefore believed to render significant knowledge on the treatment of procrastination, as well as providing support for the use of Internet based CBT for difficulties due to delayed tasks and commitments.
Conclusions: To our knowledge, the current study is the first clinical trial to examine the effects of CBT for procrastination, and is assumed to render significant knowledge on the treatment of procrastination, as well as investigating whether it can be delivered via the Internet.
Trial Registration: ClinicalTrials.gov: NCT01842945; http://clinicaltrials.gov/show/NCT01842945 (Archived by WebCite at http://www.webcitation.org/6KSmaXewC).
JMIR Publications , 2013. Vol. 2, no 2, e46- p.
procrastination, cognitive behavior therapy, internet-administered, randomized controlled trial