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Online screening and feedback to increase help-seeking for mental health problems: population-based randomised controlled trial

  • Philip J. Batterham (a1), Alison L. Calear (a2), Matthew Sunderland (a1), Natacha Carragher (a1) and Jacqueline L. Brewer (a1)...
Abstract
Background

Community-based screening for mental health problems may increase service use through feedback to individuals about their severity of symptoms and provision of contacts for appropriate services.

Aims

The effect of symptom feedback on service use was assessed. Secondary outcomes included symptom change and study attrition.

Method

Using online recruitment, 2773 participants completed a comprehensive survey including screening for depression (n=1366) or social anxiety (n=1407). Across these two versions, approximately half (n=1342) of the participants were then randomly allocated to receive tailored feedback. Participants were reassessed after 3 months (Australian New Zealand Clinical Trials Registry ANZCTR12614000324617).

Results

A negative effect of providing social anxiety feedback to individuals was observed, with significant reductions in professional service use. Greater attrition and lower intentions to seek help were also observed after feedback.

Conclusions

Online mental health screening with feedback is not effective for promoting professional service use. Alternative models of online screening require further investigation.

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Copyright
This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Non-Commercial, No Derivatives (CC BY-NC-ND) licence (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/).
Corresponding author
Philip J. Batterham, National Institute for Mental Health Research, Research School of Population Health, 63 Eggleston Road, The Australian National University, Acton ACT 2601, Canberra, Australia. Email: philip.batterham@ahu.edu.au
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Declaration of interest

None.

Footnotes
References
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Online screening and feedback to increase help-seeking for mental health problems: population-based randomised controlled trial

  • Philip J. Batterham (a1), Alison L. Calear (a2), Matthew Sunderland (a1), Natacha Carragher (a1) and Jacqueline L. Brewer (a1)...
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