Aim: Procrastination refers to the purposeful delay of an intended course of action and can become a persistent behavioral pattern associated with reduced mood, increased stress, and poorer performance. One-fifth of the adult population and half of the student population experience significant difficulties due to procrastination, but has received little attention in clinical research. Meanwhile, Internet-based cognitive behavior therapy (ICBT) has been found promising for several conditions, but has not yet been used in relation to procrastination. The current study thus aimed to examine the efficacy of ICBT for procrastination at post treatment and one-year follow-up, as well as to investigate predictors of change.
Method: Participants (N = 150) were randomized to a ten-week treatment programme; guided self-help, unguided self-help, and wait-list control (receiving unguided self-help after the first treatment period). Outcome measures were administered at screening, post treatment, one-year follow-up, or weekly, consisting of the Pure Procrastination Scale (PPS), the Irrational Procrastination Scale (IPS), the Susceptibility to Temptation Scale, the Montgomery Åsberg Depression Rating Scale, the Generalized Anxiety Disorder Assessment, and the Quality of Life Inventory. Intention-to-treat was used for all statistical analyses, with mixed-effects models to assess the effect of time and group.
Results: Moderate to large effect sizes were obtained at post treatment comparing guided and unguided self-help with wait-list control, the PPS, Cohen’s d = 0.70, 95% confidence interval (CI) [0.29, 1.10], and d = 0.50, 95% CI [0.10, 0.90], and the IPS, d = 0.81 95% CI [0.40, 1.22], and d = 0.69 95% CI [0.29, 1.09]. Clinically significant change was achieved among 31.3–40.0% for guided self-help, compared with 24.0–36.0% for unguided self-help. Neither of the treatment conditions was found to be superior on any of the outcome measures, Fs (98, 65.17-72.55) < 1.70, p > .19. One-year follow-up data has just been collected and the results of will be available at the time of the conference, including predictors of change.
Conclusion: ICBT could be useful for managing self-reported problems of procrastination, with results at one-year follow-up and predictors of change revealing the long-term benefit and possible variables responsible for a successful treatment outcome.
8th World Congress of Behavioural and Cognitive Therapies, Melbourne, Australia, 22-25 June 2016