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Soc Psychiatry Psychiatr Epidemiol. 2014 Feb;49(2):275-82. doi: 10.1007/s00127-013-0708-9. Epub 2013 May 21.

Feasibility of internet-delivered mental health treatments for rural populations.

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Centre for Translational Neuroscience and Mental Health, University of Newcastle, Level 5, McAuley Centre, Calvary Mater Hospital, Waratah, Callaghan, NSW, 2298, Australia,



Rural populations face numerous barriers to mental health care. Although internet-delivered mental health treatments may offer an accessible and cost-effective answer to these barriers, there has been little evaluation of the feasibility of this approach among rural communities.


Data were obtained from a random rural community sample through the third wave of the Australian Rural Mental Health Study. Attitudes towards internet-delivered mental health treatments and availability of internet access were explored. Data were analysed to identify sub-groups in whom internet-delivered treatments may be usefully targeted.


Twelve hundred and forty-six participants completed the survey (mean age 59 years, 61% females, 22% from remote areas). Overall, 75% had internet access and 20% would consider using internet-based interventions, with 18% meeting both of these feasibility criteria. Logistic regression revealed feasibility for internet-delivered mental health treatment was associated with younger age, male gender, being a carer, and a 12-month mental health problem. Participants who had used internet-delivered services in the past were significantly more likely to endorse these treatments as acceptable.


There is considerable potential for internet-delivered treatments to increase service accessibility to some sub-groups, particularly among people with mental health problems who are not currently seeking help. Resistance to internet treatments appears to be largely attitudinal, suggesting that enhancing community education and familiarity with such programs may be effective in improving perceptions and ultimately access.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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