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.
Mental Health Review Journal – Emerald Publishing
Published: Nov 29, 2013
Keywords: Internet; Crisis; Suicide; Help seeking; Interactive; Search engine
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