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Open Access Research article

The effect of web based depression interventions on self reported help seeking: randomised controlled trial [ISRCTN77824516]

Helen Christensen*, Liana S Leach, Lisa Barney, Andrew J Mackinnon and Kathy M Griffiths

Author Affiliations

Centre for Mental Health Research, The Australian National University, Canberra ACT, Australia

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BMC Psychiatry 2006, 6:13  doi:10.1186/1471-244X-6-13

Published: 5 April 2006



To date, there has been very little work investigating behaviour changes induced by interventions that are designed to increase help seeking. The present paper examines the effects of two Internet depression websites on help seeking.


414 individuals with elevated scores on a depression assessment scale were randomly allocated to a depression information website, a cognitive-behavioural skills training website (CBT) or an attention control condition. Reports of help seeking for specific treatments, from specific sources and for categories of treatments were assessed.


Relative to the control, the depression information site was associated with decreases in seeking support from friends and family, the use of music and of everyday treatments and no increase in seeking evidence based interventions. The CBT site was associated with the report of help seeking for CBT, massage and exercise.


Methods to encourage the use of evidence-based treatments need further research to determine whether the assistance sought is evidence based and whether there are unintended effects.