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Cross-sectional survey of users of internet depression communities

By John Powell, Noel D. McCarthy and Gunther Eysenbach

Abstract

Background: Internet-based depression communities provide a forum for individuals to\ud communicate and share information and ideas. There has been little research into the health status\ud and other characteristics of users of these communities.\ud Methods: Online cross-sectional survey of Internet depression communities to identify depressive\ud morbidity among users of Internet depression communities in six European countries; to\ud investigate whether users were in contact with health services and receiving treatment; and to\ud identify user perceived effects of the communities.\ud Results: Major depression was highly prevalent among respondents (varying by country from 40%\ud to 64%). Forty-nine percent of users meeting criteria for major depression were not receiving\ud treatment, and 35% had no consultation with health services in the previous year. Thirty-six\ud percent of repeat community users who had consulted a health professional in the previous year\ud felt that the Internet community had been an important factor in deciding to seek professional help.\ud Conclusions: There are high levels of untreated and undiagnosed depression in users of Internet\ud depression communities. This group represents a target for intervention. Internet communities can\ud provide information and support for stigmatizing conditions that inhibit more traditional modes of\ud information seeking

Publisher: Biomed Central
Year: 2003
OAI identifier: oai:wrap.warwick.ac.uk:198

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