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      Internet-Delivered Health Interventions That Work: Systematic Review of Meta-Analyses and Evaluation of Website Availability

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          Due to easy access and low cost, Internet-delivered therapies offer an attractive alternative to improving health. Although numerous websites contain health-related information, finding evidence-based programs (as demonstrated through randomized controlled trials, RCTs) can be challenging. We sought to bridge the divide between the knowledge gained from RCTs and communication of the results by conducting a global systematic review and analyzing the availability of evidence-based Internet health programs.


          The study aimed to (1) discover the range of health-related topics that are addressed through Internet-delivered interventions, (2) generate a list of current websites used in the trials which demonstrate a health benefit, and (3) identify gaps in the research that may have hindered dissemination. Our focus was on Internet-delivered self-guided health interventions that did not require real-time clinical support.


          A systematic review of meta-analyses was conducted using Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses (PRISMA) guidelines (PROSPERO Registration Number CRD42016041258). MEDLINE via Ovid, PsycINFO, Embase, Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, and the Cumulative Index to Nursing and Allied Health Literature (CINAHL) were searched. Inclusion criteria included (1) meta-analyses of RCTs, (2) at least one Internet-delivered intervention that measured a health-related outcome, and (3) use of at least one self-guided intervention. We excluded group-based therapies. There were no language restrictions.


          Of the 363 records identified through the search, 71 meta-analyses met inclusion criteria. Within the 71 meta-analyses, there were 1733 studies that contained 268 unique RCTs which tested self-help interventions. On review of the 268 studies, 21.3% (57/268) had functional websites. These included evidence-based Web programs on substance abuse (alcohol, tobacco, cannabis), mental health (depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder [PTSD], phobias, panic disorders, obsessive compulsive disorder [OCD]), and on diet and physical activity. There were also evidence-based programs on insomnia, chronic pain, cardiovascular risk, and childhood health problems. These programs tended to be intensive, requiring weeks to months of engagement by the user, often including interaction, personalized and normative feedback, and self-monitoring. English was the most common language, although some were available in Spanish, French, Portuguese, Dutch, German, Norwegian, Finnish, Swedish, and Mandarin. There were several interventions with numbers needed to treat of <5; these included painACTION, Mental Health Online for panic disorders, Deprexis, Triple P Online (TPOL), and U Can POOP Too. Hyperlinks of the sites have been listed.


          A wide range of evidence-based Internet programs are currently available for health-related behaviors, as well as disease prevention and treatment. However, the majority of Internet-delivered health interventions found to be efficacious in RCTs do not have websites for general use. Increased efforts to provide mechanisms to host “interventions that work” on the Web and to assist the public in locating these sites are necessary.

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          Preferred reporting items for systematic reviews and meta-analyses: the PRISMA statement.

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            Preferred reporting items for systematic reviews and meta-analyses: the PRISMA statement

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              Effects on blood pressure of reduced dietary sodium and the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet. DASH-Sodium Collaborative Research Group.

              The effect of dietary composition on blood pressure is a subject of public health importance. We studied the effect of different levels of dietary sodium, in conjunction with the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet, which is rich in vegetables, fruits, and low-fat dairy products, in persons with and in those without hypertension. A total of 412 participants were randomly assigned to eat either a control diet typical of intake in the United States or the DASH diet. Within the assigned diet, participants ate foods with high, intermediate, and low levels of sodium for 30 consecutive days each, in random order. Reducing the sodium intake from the high to the intermediate level reduced the systolic blood pressure by 2.1 mm Hg (P<0.001) during the control diet and by 1.3 mm Hg (P=0.03) during the DASH diet. Reducing the sodium intake from the intermediate to the low level caused additional reductions of 4.6 mm Hg during the control diet (P<0.001) and 1.7 mm Hg during the DASH diet (P<0.01). The effects of sodium were observed in participants with and in those without hypertension, blacks and those of other races, and women and men. The DASH diet was associated with a significantly lower systolic blood pressure at each sodium level; and the difference was greater with high sodium levels than with low ones. As compared with the control diet with a high sodium level, the DASH diet with a low sodium level led to a mean systolic blood pressure that was 7.1 mm Hg lower in participants without hypertension, and 11.5 mm Hg lower in participants with hypertension. The reduction of sodium intake to levels below the current recommendation of 100 mmol per day and the DASH diet both lower blood pressure substantially, with greater effects in combination than singly. Long-term health benefits will depend on the ability of people to make long-lasting dietary changes and the increased availability of lower-sodium foods.

                Author and article information

                J Med Internet Res
                J. Med. Internet Res
                Journal of Medical Internet Research
                JMIR Publications (Toronto, Canada )
                March 2017
                24 March 2017
                : 19
                : 3
                1Department of Internal Medicine University of Michigan Ann Arbor, MIUnited States
                Author notes
                Corresponding Author: Mary AM Rogers maryroge@
                ©Mary AM Rogers, Kelsey Lemmen, Rachel Kramer, Jason Mann, Vineet Chopra. Originally published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research (, 24.03.2017.

                This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work, first published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research, is properly cited. The complete bibliographic information, a link to the original publication on, as well as this copyright and license information must be included.

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