Friday, May 20, 2011

Get Better by Surfing the Web?

Prof Helen Christensen

Australians are increasingly turning to the internet for treatment of a wide range of health issues. While there are many websites providing valuable health information and effective interventions, it can often be difficult to determine the quality of any particular site.

The groundbreaking e-health portal Beacon aims to be a guiding light by providing information and expert ratings on a variety of online interventions and mobile apps for mental and physical health disorders.
Developed by the Centre for Mental Health Research at the Australian National University, Beacon reviews online health applications for people of all ages and is designed to have a wide appeal, providing information for both the general public and for health professionals.

Sites and mobile apps are categorised, reviewed, and their effectiveness is rated by an independent panel of health experts. Ratings are made based on an evaluation of the published scientific research evidence about each intervention. These ratings are presented in the form of smiley faces, serving as a simple and intuitive guide to the effectiveness of each site.

Along with these ratings, Beacon provides a brief site overview, the link to the site, and details of any published research evidence. There are currently around 170 rated sites in 34 categories including depression, anxiety, eating disorders, phobias, smoking, alcohol use, diabetes, stress, tinnitus, physical activity, and many more. New sites, apps and categories are continually being added, so check back regularly for the latest reviews. We encourage you to visit Beacon and submit your own comments about the sites, which may then be included on the portal.

Beacon can be accessed free of charge at

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