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    Campos, Filipa Sousa, Ana Rodrigues, Vânia Marques, António Queirós, Cristina and Dores, Artemisa 2016. Practical guidelines for peer support programmes for mental health problems. Revista de Psiquiatría y Salud Mental (English Edition), Vol. 9, Issue. 2, p. 97.


    Campos, Filipa Sousa, Ana Rodrigues, Vânia Marques, António Queirós, Cristina and Dores, Artemisa 2016. Directrices prácticas para programas de apoyo entre personas con enfermedad mental. Revista de Psiquiatría y Salud Mental, Vol. 9, Issue. 2, p. 97.


    Parra-Cardona, José Rubén and DeAndrea, David C. 2016. Latinos’ Access to Online and Formal Mental Health Support. The Journal of Behavioral Health Services & Research, Vol. 43, Issue. 2, p. 281.


    DeAndrea, David C. 2015. Testing the Proclaimed Affordances of Online Support Groups in a Nationally Representative Sample of Adults Seeking Mental Health Assistance. Journal of Health Communication, Vol. 20, Issue. 2, p. 147.


    Rains, Stephen A. and Wright, Kevin B. 2015. Social Support and Computer-Mediated Communication: A State-of-the-Art Review and Agenda for Future Research. Annals of the International Communication Association, Vol. 40, Issue. 1, p. 175.


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Online peer support for mental health problems in the United States: 2004–2010

  • D. C. DeAndrea (a1) and J. C. Anthony (a2)
  • DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/S0033291713000172
  • Published online: 15 February 2013
Abstract
Background

Help seeking for online peer and other social support in response to depression and other mental health problems offers an electronic technology alternative to traditional mental health care. Here, with nationally representative samples of adult community residents in the USA, we study online peer support help seeking, estimate its occurrence, and investigate depression and other suspected predictors and correlates, some of which might prove to be causal influences.

Method

The data are from nationally representative probability sample surveys of the non-institutionalized US adult population, with a new independent sample assessed via confidential computerized self-assessment modules each year from 2004 to 2010, yielding estimates about online peer support. A total of 264 431 adults participated in these years.

Results

An estimated three per 1000 adults (0.3%) seek online peer support for mental health problems each year (95% confidence interval 0.0022–0.0036). Individuals with depression and/or serious psychological distress are strongly over-represented among these adult online peer support help seekers (odds ratio >7, p < 0.001). Associations with college education, being non-Hispanic white, being female, and age are also noteworthy (p < 0.05).

Conclusions

Online help seeking for mental health social support is becoming frequent enough for study in large sample national surveys, and might well be fostered by active neuropsychiatric ailments such as depression or other serious psychological distress. Open questions remain about whether the result is beneficial, or conditions required for efficacious online peer support, as might be disclosed in definitive evidence from randomized controlled trials.

Copyright
Corresponding author
*Address for correspondence: J. C. Anthony, Ph.D., B601 West Fee Hall, Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI 48824, USA. (Email: janthony@msu.edu)
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Psychological Medicine
  • ISSN: 0033-2917
  • EISSN: 1469-8978
  • URL: /core/journals/psychological-medicine
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