No System, No Trial

In E-COMPARED, technology is key. Part of the therapeutic sessions of the blended treatment are delivered online. To test the clinical effects of this approach across the EU, web-based treatment delivery system had to be in place at each of the eight trial sites. This was critical. No systems, no trial.

The complex technical set-up of the E-COMPARED study was a challenge. Some trial sites already used systems, but these systems needed to be updated to match the requirements of
E-COMPARED. At other sites, new systems had to be introduced. But due to the experience and hard work of all project partners, the consortium managed this challenge well.

Four systems, one idea

In five countries, online sessions are delivered via the ICT4D/Moodbuster research platform, which was redesigned, refined, and extended with a Content Management System (CMS) to better facilitate treatment localisation. Partners in Sweden, Spain, and Switzerland adapted their own existing treatment systems (Iterapy, Smiling is Fun, and Deprexis, respectively).

Four different systems, four different treatments? No. All systems implement the core therapeutic elements of the generic E-COMPARED treatment manual: psychoeducation, behavioral activation, problem solving, physical exercise, cognitive therapy, and relapse prevention. Implementation differences between the systems will probably introduce some variance in outcome; technology can be a filter or a catalyst of intervention techniques. Pooled data, however, will reflect effects of the common blended treatment manual.

Technical Pilot Tests

As scheduled in the E-COMPARED plan, each treatment delivery system was systematically tested for its support of critical trial requirements by test teams throughout Europe, at local trial sites, in naturalistic settings. These technical pilot-studies were driven by a detailed common test-script that evaluated the technological readiness of the platforms, the usability of the user interfaces, their compliance to local and EU privacy regulations and their compatibility with local ICT configurations. These activities, part of Task 2.2 of Work-package 2 of the e-Compared project, are reported in Deliverable 2.3.

More than 750 tests were run in the eight countries. This revealed numerous bugs and usability issues, which, in most cases, could be resolved by system developers on short notice. On completion of the pilot tests, some critical recommendations remained to be implemented for ICT4Depression and Smiling is Fun, but these were addressed and resolved prior the scheduled start of trial participant recruitment in each site.

Scheduled systematic technical pilot tests led to focused development efforts that ensured technical treatment delivery platforms that posed no barriers for the e-Compared project to enter the trial recruitment phase. All trial partners accepted their system as a result of the pilot test as a usable tool for trial and treatment purposes. With the recent approval of Deliverable 2.3, this was officially recognized by the EU.

Moodbuster Visual Walkthrough Available for Download

For publications, presentations, workshops and other dissemination activities of project partners, we prepared a PowerPoint presentation of the ICT4D/Moodbuster system. In 100 slides with high-resolution figures, this PowerPoint provides an impression of the system in the form of a visual walkthrough, from both the client and the therapist perspective. The figures below are a sample. This PowerPoint also contains instructions how to experience the look and feel of Moodbuster yourself, at, via a demo client account. The PowerPoint can be downloaded from the secure E-COMPARED project site. If you experience any difficulties in accessing it there, I am happy to share it through e-mail (



Fig 1. Moodbuster Homepage



Fig 2. Moodbuster Module Overview



Fig 3. The Moodbuster Mobile EMA App


Next Steps

Software development is never finished. It thrives on user feedback, in continuous development cycles. Once applied in routine practice, new bugs and features will be identified. If you encounter technical issues in using the Moodbuster, please let us know at In the meantime, I wish the consortium the best of luck with participant recruitment, treatment and data collection. I am looking forward to the results!

Dr. Jeroen Ruwaard
Technical Coordinator E-COMPARED
Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam
the Netherlands