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Bernard, Renaldo; Sabariego, Carla; Cieza, Alarcos (2019): Difficulties Encountered by People With Depression and Anxiety on the Web: Qualitative Study and Web-Based Expert Survey. In: Journal of Medical internet Research, Vol. 21, No. 10, e12514
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Abstract

BACKGROUND Depression and anxiety are the most common mental health conditions, and they were identified as leading contributors to global disability in 2016. People with these conditions rely on Web-based resources as a source of accurate health information, convenient and effective treatment, and essential social support. However, a recent systematic review revealed several potentially limiting difficulties that this group experiences online and also suggested that there is a partial understanding of these difficulties as only difficulties associated with neurocognitive, but not sociocognitive, deficits were identified. Therefore, this study fills this knowledge gap and contributes to a more robust and fuller understanding of the difficulties this group experiences online. OBJECTIVE The objective of this study was to identify the difficulties people with depression and anxiety experience when using the Web and the Web activities that are most associated with the experience of difficulties. METHODS The study employed data triangulation using face-to-face semistructured interviews with 21 participants affected by depression and anxiety and a comparison group (7 participants) without mental disorders (study 1) as well as a persona-based expert online survey with 21 mental health practitioners (MHPs) who treated people with depression and anxiety (study 2). Framework analysis for both studies proceeded through 5 stages: (1) familiarization, (2) identifying a thematic framework, (3) indexing, (4) charting, and (5) mapping and interpretation. RESULTS In study 1, 167 difficulties were identified from the experiences of participants in the depression and anxiety group were discussed within the context of 81 Web activities, services, and features. From these, 4 themes and 12 subthemes describing the difficulties people with depression and anxiety experienced online were identified. Difficulties relating to the subtheme lack of control over access and usage were the most common difficulties experienced by participants in the depression and anxiety group (19/21). Sixteen difficulties identified from the experiences of participants in the comparison group were discussed within the context of 11 Web activities, services, and features. Most participants in the comparison group (6/7) contributed to the subtheme describing difficulties with unexpected and irrelevant content. In study 2, researchers identified 3 themes and 10 subthemes that described the perceived difficulties people with depression and anxiety might experience online as reported by MHPs. Practitioners linked these difficulties with 22 common impairments, limitations in activities of daily life, and diagnostic criteria associated with depression and anxiety. CONCLUSIONS People with depression and anxiety also experience difficulties when using the Web that are related to the sociocognitive deficits associated with their conditions. MHPs have a good awareness of the difficulties that people with depression and anxiety are likely to experience when using the Web. This investigation has contributed to a fuller understanding of these difficulties and provides innovative guidance on how to remove and reduce them for people with depression and anxiety when using the Web. INTERNATIONAL REGISTERED REPORT IDENTIFIER (IRRID) RR2-10.1007/978-3-319-21006-3_3.