An increasing number of people with psychosis are using digital technology and the internet for mental health information, study findings published in Psychiatry Research showed.
Predictors of using the internet for mental health support included younger age, current productive employment and loneliness, according to the results.
“A growing range of digital mental health tools is available, allowing unprecedented accessibility, personalization, and interactivity of interventions for people with psychosis,” Kristi-Ann Villagonzalo, PhD, of the Centre for Mental Health, Swinburne University of Technology, Melbourne, Australia, and colleagues wrote.
“Whilst the evidence base remains in development, accessing online communities offers opportunities for enhancing self-management and empowerment, and accessing positive role models that may challenge pessimistic stereotypes of recovery and inspire hope,” they added.
Researchers conducted a study to determine demographic, clinical and personal variables connected with overall and mental health-related internet use in a sample of 189 adult community mental health service users with nonaffective and affective psychotic disorders.
To determine potential predictors of internet use, the investigators looked at demographic (age, gender, academic achievement, employment), clinical (cognitive functioning and psychotic symptom severity) and personal (recovery style, self-stigma, self-efficacy, loneliness) variables. Internet use was measured using questionnaires.
Analysis revealed younger age, completion of post-secondary education and less severe negative symptoms predicted higher frequency of overall internet use in the study.
Overall, 67.9% of participants reported using the internet for mental health information. Among the 165 regular internet users, those who reported use of any type of website for mental health information were likely to:
- have higher overall internet use (P < .001);
- be younger (P = .002);
- be productively employed (Fisher's P = .016); and
- have achieved a higher occupational level (P = .008).
Although higher levels of loneliness predicted using the internet for mental health support
(P = 0.002), it was not predicted by cognitive difficulties, self-efficacy, recovery style, internalized stigma or psychotic symptom severity, according to the results.
“Regardless of their level of internet use, the majority of participants felt positively about the idea of using digital resources as part of their mental health care, suggesting that the needs of people who are not current internet users should be considered when designing and delivering digital mental health information and interventions in [serious mental illness],” Villagonzalo and colleagues wrote. – by Savannah Demko
Disclosure: The authors report no relevant financial disclosures.