Purpose: This study sought to examine the trends in Internet support group (ISG) participation among U.S. adults and to investigate the sociodemographic and behavioral health profiles of ISG participants. Methods: Data was derived from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (2004–2018, n = 625,883). Logistic regression was used to examine significance of trend year and correlates of ISG participation. Latent class analysis was conducted to identify subtypes of ISG participants. Results: The proportion of U.S. adults participating in ISG increased significantly from 2.29% (2004–2007) to 3.55% (2016–2018). ISG participants were less likely to be male, 35 or older, be part of an ethnic/racial minority group, or have household incomes between $20,000 and $49,999. Black/African American participants and those classified as “other” race showed the largest percent increases, while Hispanics showed no change. ISG participants were more likely to have experienced a depressive episode and to have used cannabis. Three subtypes of ISG participants were identified, including the Lower Behavioral Health Risk group (62%), the Elevated Behavioral Health Risk group (24%), and the Depression, Cigarettes, and Cannabis group (14%). Conclusion: Overall, we found an increasing trend in seeking mental health care through ISG among US adults since the early 2000s. While disparities among some disadvantaged groups such as Blacks/African Americans and individuals with lower household income were diminishing, continuing efforts to engage men, older adults, and Hispanics in ISG are needed. This investigation also identified distinct subtypes of ISG participants and provides important implications for future research on ISG.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Psychiatry and Mental health
- Biological Psychiatry