Does Online Education Really Work?

Online learning is a growing educational option. Mental health treatment should use this unique way of educating people because interventions can be tailored according to client needs. Over the past 15 years online learning has become a familiar, standard, and comfortable way of learning for children and adults. Research shows that:

  • Almost 38% of higher education students take online courses
  • Over 2 million K-2 students learn online
  • In healthcare, online learning is a common way to address staff competencies
  • Because of this change in learning, treatment providers need to reconsider treatment methods

Why does it make sense to use online education with substance issues?

  • It is convenient:  Many employed people find it difficult to attend face-to-face sessions during work hours
  • It is available: People who live in rural areas or localities poorly serviced by public transport have difficulty traveling to regular sessions
  • It makes financial sense: Face-to-face education is economically burdensome and sometimes these services cannot meet the demand
  • It reduces concerns about treatment: People are frequently concerned about seeking treatment because of confidentiality and being stigmatized as “mentally ill.” Online education reduces this concern because it is accomplished in the privacy of the learner’s home.

Does online education work? YES!

  • A  computerized intervention program with therapist support produced a similar decrease in cannabis use to a therapist-delivered intervention (Budney et al., 2011)
  • Computer-delivered treatments have successfully treated depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, cocaine use, opioid dependence, and relationship/marriage skills.
  • A meta-analysis of the efficacy of computer-delivered treatments for tobacco and alcohol use found that  treatments had a significant effect ( Rooke, S., Thorsteinsson, E. Karpin, A., Copeland, J., & Allsop, D., 2010)
  • Sinadinovic et al., (2012) found evidence that an online brief intervention program was superior to assessment-only in assisting illicit drug users to reduce their substance use
  • Rooke et. al., (2013) found that online interventions may be an effective means of treating uncomplicated marijuana use and related problems

Want to learn more?

Bickel W., Marsch L., Buchhalter A., & Badger G.J. (2008). Computerized behavior    therapy for opioid-dependent outpatients: A randomized controlled trial. Experimental Clinical Psychopharmacology, 132-143.

Budney, A., Fearer S., Walker D., Stanger C., Thostenson J., & Grabinski,  M. (2011). An initial trial of a computerized behavioral intervention for cannabis use disorder. Drug and Alcohol Dependence, 115, 74-79.

Form, A., Morgan, A., & Malhi, G. (2013). The future of e-health. Australian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry, 47, 104-106.

Kalinka, C., Fincham, F., & Hirsch, A. (2012). A randomized clinical trial of online-biblio relationship education for expectant couples. Journal of Family Psychology, 26 (1), 159-164.

Rooke, S., Thorsteinsson, E., Karpin, A., Copeland, J., & Allsop, D. (2010).Computer delivere interventions for alcohol and tobacco use : A metanalyasis. Addiction, 105 (8), 1381-1390.

Rooke, S., Copeland, J., Norberg, M., Hine, D., &  McCambridge, J.(2013). Effectiveness of a self-guide web-based cannabis treatment program: Randomized control trial. Journal of Medical Internet Research, 15, 48-61.

Sinadinovic K., Wennberg P, Berman A (2012). Targeting problematic users of illicit drugs with Internet- based screening and brief intervention: A randomized controlled trial. Drug and Alcohol Dependence ,19.

Tossmann, H., Jonas B, Tensil, M., Lang, P., & Strüber E. (2011). A controlled trial of an internet-based intervention program for cannabis users. Cyberpsychology Behavioral Society Network ,14(11), 673-679.