Assessing the Applicability of E-Therapies for Depression, Anxiety, and Other Mood Disorders Among Lesbians and Gay Men: Analysis of 24 Web- and Mobile Phone-Based Self-Help Interventions
BACKGROUND: Lesbians and gay men have disproportionately high rates of depression and anxiety, and report lower satisfaction with treatments. In part, this may be because many health care options marginalize them by assuming heterosexuality, or misunderstand and fail to respond to the challenges specifically faced by these groups. E-therapies have particular potential to respond to the mental health needs of lesbians and gay men, but there is little research to determine whether they do so, or how they might be improved. OBJECTIVE: We sought to examine the applicability of existing mental health e-therapies for lesbians and gay men. METHODS: We reviewed 24 Web- and mobile phone-based e-therapies and assessed their performance in eight key areas, including the use of inclusive language and content and whether they addressed mental health stressors for lesbians and gay men, such as experiences of stigma related to their sexual orientation, coming out, and relationship issues that are specific to lesbians and gay men. RESULTS: We found that e-therapies seldom addressed these stressors. Furthermore, 58% (14/24) of therapies contained instances that assumed or suggested the user was heterosexual, with instances especially prevalent among better-evidenced programs. CONCLUSIONS: Our findings, and a detailed review protocol presented in this article, may be used as guides for the future development of mental health e-therapies to better accommodate the needs of lesbians and gay men.