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Online interactive suicide support services: quality and accessibility

Paul Best (PhD Researcher, based at School of Sociology and Applied Social Studies, University of Ulster, Derry, UK)
Una Foye (based at School of Communication, University of Ulster, Belfast, UK)
Brian Taylor (Professor of Social Work based at School of Sociology and Applied Social Studies, University of Ulster, Derry, UK)
Diane Hazlett (Head of School of Communication based at School of Communication, University of Ulster, Belfast, UK)
Roger Manktelow (Lecturer in Social Work based at School of Sociology and Applied Social Studies, University of Ulster, Derry, UK)

Mental Health Review Journal

ISSN: 1361-9322

Article publication date: 29 November 2013

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Abstract

Purpose

Little research has focused on the quality and availability of interactive online support services retrieved through search engines. The purpose of this paper is twofold; first, to review and assess the availability and accessibility of interactive online support available to individuals in suicidal crisis. Second, to field test a new tool developed specifically to evaluate both the quality of online information and the quality of interactive support.

Design/methodology/approach

A collection of six terms relating to suicidal distress were generated and inputted across three major search engines (Google, Yahoo and Ask). Following initial exclusions, the remaining web sites were analysed using the SPAT (Site, Publisher, Audience and Timeliness) tool and recently developed COSAT (Crisis and Online Support Appraisal Tool) tool.

Findings

The quality of web sites retrieved was variable, with only 1.9 per cent deemed as high-quality interactive support resources. Google had the greatest precision of searching, but ease of access through search engines was generally limited. No significant difference was found in the quality of web sites located on pages 1 or 2 of search engine results. Overall, community and voluntary sector web sites averaged higher quality and interactive support rating's compared to publicly funded web sites.

Research limitations/implications

The newly developed COSAT tool may provide a positive first step towards a standardised measure of online quality and interactive support, although further testing and validation is required with a larger sample size.

Originality/value

To the authors knowledge little research has focused on the quality and availability of interactive online support services retrieved through search engines.

Keywords

Citation

Best, P., Foye, U., Taylor, B., Hazlett, D. and Manktelow, R. (2013), "Online interactive suicide support services: quality and accessibility", Mental Health Review Journal, Vol. 18 No. 4, pp. 226-239. https://doi.org/10.1108/MHRJ-03-2013-0009

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2013, Emerald Group Publishing Limited