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Journal or Book Title

JMIR Mental Health


Background: Self-guided mental health interventions that are disseminated via the Web have the potential to circumvent barriers to treatment and improve public mental health. However, self-guided interventions often fail to attract consumers and suffer from user nonadherence. Uptake of novel interventions could be improved by consulting consumers from the beginning of the development process in order to assess their interest and their preferences. Interventions can then be tailored using this feedback to optimize appeal.

Objective: The aim of our study was to determine the level of public interest in a new mental health intervention that incorporates elements of self-help and peer counseling and that is disseminated via a Web-based training course; to identify predictors of interest in the program; and to identify consumer preferences for features of Web-based courses and peer support programs.

Methods: We surveyed consumers via Amazon’s Mechanical Turk to estimate interest in the self-help and peer support program. We assessed associations between demographic and clinical characteristics and interest in the program, and we obtained feedback on desired features of the program.

Results: Overall, 63.9% (378/592) of respondents said that they would try the program; interest was lower but still substantial among those who were not willing or able to access traditional mental health services. Female gender, lower income, and openness to using psychotherapy were the most consistent predictors of interest in the program. The majority of respondents, although not all, preferred romantic partners or close friends as peer counselors and would be most likely to access the program if the training course were accessed on a stand-alone website. In general, respondents valued training in active listening skills.

Conclusions: In light of the apparent public interest in this program, Web-disseminated self-help and peer support interventions have enormous potential to fill gaps in mental health care. The results of this survey can be used to inform the design of such interventions.







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