Attitudes Toward e-Mental Health Services in a Community Sample of Adults: Online Survey

Sonja March, Jamin Day, Gabrielle Ritchie, Arlen Rowe, Jeffrey Gough, Tanya Hall, Chin Yan Jackie Yuen, Caroline Leanne Donovan, Michael Ireland
<span title="2018-02-19">2018</span> <i title="JMIR Publications Inc."> <a target="_blank" rel="noopener" href="https://fatcat.wiki/container/f42mlbuaivhxrblrv2cbukmx4i" style="color: black;">Journal of Medical Internet Research</a> </i> &nbsp;
Despite evidence that e-mental health services are effective, consumer preferences still appear to be in favor of face-to-face services. However, the theory of planned behavior (TPB) suggests that cognitive intentions are more proximal to behavior and thus may have a more direct influence on service use. Investigating individual characteristics that influence both preferences and intentions to use e-mental health services is important for better understanding factors that might impede or
more &raquo; ... ate the use of these services. Objective: This study explores predictors of preferences and intentions to access e-mental health services relative to face-to-face services. Five domains were investigated (demographics, technology factors, personality, psychopathology, and beliefs), identified from previous studies and informed by the Internet interventions model. We expected that more participants would report intentions to use e-mental health services relative to reported preferences for this type of support and that these 5 domains would be significantly associated with both intentions and preferences toward online services. Methods: A mixed sample of 308 community members and university students was recruited through social media and the host institution in Australia. Ages ranged between 17 and 68 years, and 82.5% (254/308) were female. Respondents completed an online survey. Chi-square analysis and t tests were used to explore group differences, and logistic regression models were employed to explore factors predicting preferences and intentions. Results: Most respondents (85.7%, 264/308) preferred face-to-face services over e-mental health services. Relative to preferences, a larger proportion of respondents (39.6%, 122/308) endorsed intentions to use e-mental health services if experiencing mental health difficulties in the future. In terms of the 5 predictor domains, 95% CIs of odds ratios (OR) derived from bootstrapped standard errors suggested that prior experience with online services significantly predicted intentions to use self-help (95% CI 2.08-16.24) and therapist-assisted (95% CI 1.71-11.90) online services in future. Being older predicted increased intentions to use therapist-assisted online services in future (95% CI 1.01-1.06), as did more confidence using computers and the Internet (95% CI 1.06-2.69). Technology confidence was also found to predict greater preference for online services versus face-to-face options (95% CI 1.24-4.82), whereas higher doctor-related locus of control, or LOC (95% CI 0.76-0.95), and extraversion (95% CI 0.88-1.00) were predictive of lower likelihood of preferring online services relative to face-to-face services. Conclusions: Despite generally low reported preferences toward e-mental health services, intentions to access these services are higher, raising the question of how to best encourage translation of intentions into behavior (ie, actual use of programs). Strategies designed to ease people into new Internet-based mental health programs (to enhance confidence and familiarity) may be important for increasing the likelihood that they will return to such programs later.
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