The study is based on the relative success of online-based self-help programs in engaging youth with smoking, alcohol and other high-risk behaviors. Interest in online therapeutic interventions has grown with increasing research that online programs for health and mental health problems have been as effective or better than traditional programs including face-to-face therapy. The study was focused on active interventions involving interactive self-help programs including personalized feedback or Internet-based interactions with therapists or peers through email, chat or discussion forums.
There are several reasons why online interventions may be helpful in treating high-risk behaviors among youth. First, the confidentiality and nonjudgmental quality of the Internet may make it more likely for youth to divulge personal information, which may facilitate knowledge, attitude or behavioral changes.
A second advantage is the ability to assess a large and vulnerable population in a cost-effective and confidential manner and provide relevant resources to those in need. Internet interventions also provide for the ability to tailor customized program content that is more likely to be read, remembered and viewed as personally relevant — all factors that may ultimately increase utilization and effectiveness.
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