Purpose. The purpose of this review was to present an in-depth analysis of literature identifying the extent of dropout from Internet-based treatment programmes for psychological disorders, and literature exploring the variables associated with dropout from such programmes.
Methods. A comprehensive literature search was conducted on PSYCHINFO and PUBMED with the keywords: dropouts, drop out, dropout, dropping out, attrition, premature termination, termination, non-compliance, treatment, intervention, and program, each in combination with the key words Internet and web. A total of 19 studies published between 1990 and April 2009 and focusing on dropout from Internet-based treatment programmes involving minimal therapist contact were identified and included in the review.
Results. Dropout ranged from 2 to 83% and a weighted average of 31% of the participants dropped out of treatment. A range of variables have been examined for their association with dropout from Internet-based treatment programmes for psychological disorders. Despite the numerous variables explored, evidence on any specific variables that may make an individual more likely to drop out of Internet-based treatment is currently limited.
Conclusions. This review highlights the need for more rigorous and theoretically guided research exploring the variables associated with dropping out of Internet-based treatment for psychological disorders.