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Internet-based Research Interventions: Suggestions for Minimizing Risk

Internet-based Research Interventions: Suggestions for Minimizing Risk (PDF file, 5 pages, reviewed May 2007)

The Risk Minimization Chart is a resource tool for NIMH researchers that was developed by staff of the Division of Services and Intervention Research as a result of an NIMH-sponsored workshop held in 2000 ("Consider This: Cyber Interventions in Mental Health—Ethical Considerations"). The chart was reviewed and revised in 2003 at a second workshop: "Internet-based Research Interventions and Mental Health: How Are they Working?" Both workshops included NIMH and NIH (the National Institute on Drug Abuse and the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism) staff and grantees and/or consultants who are engaged in supporting or conducting Internet-based research.

Both workshops focused on researchers' "real world" issues with conducting Internet-based research interventions. The primary topic areas that were identified as major challenges in this research area are reaching target populations; electronic informed consent; privacy and security; and emerging Internet trends and technologies. E-mail communications, psychoeducational programs, depression screening surveys, various types of online chat rooms, peer-support programs, and interactive educational website programs are examples of the ways in which federally funded researchers are incorporating the Internet and new technologies into mental health interventions (see also ongoing clinical trials incorporating the Internet ).

As NIMH continues to fund research on such interventions, it will monitor this evolving field to assess the needs and experiences of its grantees using the Internet in their intervention efforts.