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Online Support Groups for Depression: Benefits and Barriers

Breuer, L; Barker, C; (2015) Online Support Groups for Depression: Benefits and Barriers. SAGE Open 10.1177/2158244015574936. Green open access

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Abstract

Objectives. This mixed-method study aimed to explore the initial process of engagement with an online support group (OSG) for depression. Method. Fifteen British National Health Service patients experiencing depression who had not previously used an OSG for depression were offered facilitated access to an existing peer-to-peer OSG for 10 weeks. Pre- and post-measures of depression, social support and self-stigma were taken, in addition to a weekly measure of OSG usage. A follow-up qualitative interview was conducted with a subsample of nine participants. Results. Depression and self-stigma reduced over the ten-week period, but perceived social support did not change. There was no evidence of adverse outcomes. Perceived benefits of OSG participation included connection to others, normalization of depression and stigma reduction. However, engagement with the OSG was generally low. Barriers included concerns over causing harm to others or being harmed oneself, feeling different from others in the group and fears of being judged by others. Conclusions: OSGs may potentially reduce depressive symptoms and perceived self-stigma. However, considerable barriers may hinder people with depression from engaging with OSGs. Further work is needed to determine who will benefit most from participating in OSGs for depression, and how best to facilitate engagement

Type: Article
Title: Online Support Groups for Depression: Benefits and Barriers
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1177/2158244015574936
Publisher version: http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/2158244015574936
Language: English
Additional information: Copyright © The Author(s) 2015. This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License (http://www.creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/) which permits any use, reproduction and distribution of the work without further permission provided the original work is attributed as specified on the SAGE and Open Access page (http://www.uk.sagepub.com/aboutus/openaccess.htm).
Keywords: Online support group, internet support group, social support, depression, stigma
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Div of Psychology and Lang Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Div of Psychology and Lang Sciences > Clinical, Edu and Hlth Psychology
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1457127
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