Going global: do consumer preferences, attitudes, and barriers to using e-mental health services differ across countries?
BA Clough, M Zarean, I Ruane, NJ Mateo, TA Aliyeva, LM Casey
BACKGROUND: e-Mental health services have the capacity to overcome barriers to care and reduce the unmet need for psychological services, particularly in developing countries. However, it is unknown how acceptable e-mental health interventions may be to these populations.
AIMS: The purpose of the current study was to examine consumer attitudes and perceived barriers to e-mental health usage across four countries: Australia, Iran, the Philippines and South Africa.
METHODS: An online survey was completed by 524 adults living in these countries, assessing previous contact with e-mental health services, willingness to use e-mental health services, and perceived barriers and needs for accessing e-mental health services.
RESULTS: Although previous contact with e-mental health services was low, the majority of respondents in each sample reported a willingness to try e-mental health services if offered. Barriers toward e-mental health usage were higher among the developing countries than Australia. The most commonly endorsed barriers concerned needing information and assurances regarding the programmes.
CONCLUSIONS: Across countries, participants indicated a willingness to use e-mental health programmes if offered. With appropriate research and careful implementation, e-mental health has the potential to be a valuable part of mental healthcare in developing countries.