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Direction to an internet support group compared with online expressive writing for people with depression and anxiety: a randomized trial

Dean, J; Potts, HW; Barker, C; (2016) Direction to an internet support group compared with online expressive writing for people with depression and anxiety: a randomized trial. JMIR Mental Health , 3 (2) , Article e12. 10.2196/mental.5133. Green open access

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Abstract

BACKGROUND: Depression and anxiety are common, often comorbid, conditions, and Internet support groups for them are well used. However, little rigorous research has been conducted on the outcome of these groups. OBJECTIVE: This study aimed to evaluate the efficacy of an Internet support group in reducing depression and anxiety, and increasing social support and life satisfaction. METHODS: A randomized trial compared direction to an existing Internet support group for depression and anxiety with an online expressive writing condition. A total of 863 (628 female) United Kingdom, United States, and Canadian volunteers were recruited via the Internet. Online, self-report measures of depression, anxiety, social support, and satisfaction with life were administered at baseline, 3, and 6 months. RESULTS: All four outcomes - depression, anxiety, social support, and satisfaction with life - improved over the 6 months of the study (all P <.001). There was no difference in outcome between the two conditions: participants responded similarly to the expressive writing and the Internet support group. Engagement with the Internet support group was low, it had high 6-month attrition (692/795, 87%) and low adherence, and it received mixed and often negative feedback. The main problems reported were a lack of comfort and connection with others, negative social comparisons, and the potential for receiving bad advice. Expressive writing had lower attrition (194/295, 65%) and participants reported that it was more acceptable. CONCLUSIONS: Until further evidence accumulates, directing people with depression and anxiety to Internet support groups cannot be recommended. On the other hand, online expressive writing seems to have potential, and its use for people with depression and anxiety warrants further investigation. TRIAL REGISTRATION: TRIAL REGISTRATION: Clinicaltrials.gov NCT01149265; https://clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/NCT01149265 (Archived by WebCite at http://www.webcitation.org/6hYISlNFT).

Type: Article
Title: Direction to an internet support group compared with online expressive writing for people with depression and anxiety: a randomized trial
Location: Canada
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.2196/mental.5133
Publisher version: http://dx.doi.org/10.2196/mental.5133
Language: English
Additional information: Copyright © Jeremy Dean, Henry W. W. Potts, Chris Barker. Originally published in JMIR Mental Health (http://mental.jmir.org), 17.05.2016. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work, first published in JMIR Mental Health, is properly cited. The complete bibliographic information, a link to the original publication on http://mental.jmir.org/, as well as this copyright and license information must be included.
Keywords: depression; anxiety; Internet support; online support; expressive writing
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
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Population Health Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Population Health Sciences > Institute of Health Informatics
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Population Health Sciences > Institute of Health Informatics > CHIME
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1493112
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