Research projects

Online forums user research

Principal researchers 

Catriona Banks & Gary Colquhoun


Hall & Partners | Open Mind


Funded by Beyond Blue

Project completion year 


Project brief 

This three-year research project validated four indications of the positive role Beyond Blue’s forums are playing in people’s lives, in the areas of:

  1. Symptom reduction: more than half of members report feeling less depressed (54 per cent) or less anxious (56 per cent) after access
  2. Access to professional support: 36 per cent of members claim to have contacted a health professional as a direct result of using the forums
  3. Increasing connectedness: 38 per cent of members claim to have talked to someone close to them about depression or anxiety as a direct result of using the forums
  4. Lifestyle changes: 66 per cent of members indicate a behaviour change such as diet, meditation, exercise or reduction of drugs/alcohol consumption as a direct result of using the forums.

While a small minority have had negative experiences in the forums, these have tended to be due to individual actions and reactions (such as reading posts that distressed them) rather than to anything directly attributable to forum structure or approach. 

A sense of community is present in the forums, but it appears to be relatively modest – the forums are in no way central to the lives of most participants, but they clearly provide a positive, caring, respectful environment in most cases.


Suggested citation:  Hall & Partners | Open Mind. (2015-17). Online forums, a research report for Beyond Blue.

Online Forums 2015 Report

Online Forums 2016 Report

Online Forums 2017 Report

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