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Online support system for students in higher education: Proof-of-concept study

Touloumakos, A. K., Goozée, R., Papadatou-Pastou, M. , Barley, E. A., Haddad, M. ORCID: 0000-0002-4822-5482 & Tzotzoli, P. (2016). Online support system for students in higher education: Proof-of-concept study. Digital Health, 2, pp. 1-24. doi: 10.1177/2055207616655012


Background: Providing support to the increasing numbers of students facing mental health difficulties in higher education (HE) can be difficult due to stigma or lack of resources. Alternative and/or complementary sources of support are needed, such as online interventions that are recognised for their therapeutic value and cost-effectiveness.

Objectives: We aim to provide evidence supporting the conceptual and practical value of a newly developed online multimedia intervention system for HE students who face mild to moderate symptoms of anxiety and depression and study-skills difficulties.

Methods: Students from five universities were invited to participate in a cross-sectional proof-of-concept study. Students were invited through the universities' internal communication channels. Following demonstration of each part of the system, students completed a survey with quantitative and qualitative questions.

Results: Response was largely positive. Positive responses on the features of the questionnaire ranged between 65% and 86%; on the features of the workshops ranged between 57% and 91%; on 'My place' ranged between 65% and 79%; on the animated videos ranged between 79% and 92%; and on the overall system ranged between 78% and 89%. Participants indicated areas for improvement and ways in which such improvement could be accomplished; these then guided the development of the system.

Conclusions: The results confirm the need for such a system. It can complement student support services (SSS) by dealing with cases with mild to moderate difficulties, hence allowing SSS to prioritise and effectively address more severe cases. Potentially this method can provide a meaningful alternative to SSS; this is worth investigating further.

Publication Type: Article
Publisher Keywords: Online support system, students, higher education, anxiety and depression, study skills
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
L Education > LB Theory and practice of education > LB2300 Higher Education
Departments: School of Health & Psychological Sciences > Nursing
SWORD Depositor:
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