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Internet helps the chronically ill

19th October 2005

Using interactive internet sites can help benefit people with long-term conditions including depression and chronic illnesses, according to new research.

Undertaken by University College London, the research found that interactive websites supported chronically ill people by putting them in touch with others suffering from the same ailment and providing them with valuable information.

Researchers involved in the project looked at 24 previous studies involving 3,739 subjects who all suffered from chronic health conditions.

They looked at their use of interactive computer websites and programmes that contained information, as well as online support groups or chatrooms.

The team found interactive sites were much more beneficial to people than those displaying information alone and those with interactive capabilities made the subjects feel more informed and supported.

Study leader, Dr Elizabeth Murray told the BBC that people with chronic diseases often want more information about their illness and the various treatment options available.

"They may also seek advice and support to help them make behaviour changes necessary to manage and live with the disease, such as changes in diet or exercise," she explained.

"Computer-based programs which combine health information with, for example, online peer support may be one way of meeting these needs and of helping people to achieve better health."