Background: ICare represents a consortium of European Investigators examining the effects of online mental health care for a variety of common mental health disorders provided in a variety of settings. This article provides an overview of the evidence of effectiveness for Internet-based treatment for four common mental health disorders that are the focus of much of this work: Depression, anxiety, substance abuse and eating disorders. Methods: The overview focused primarily on systematic reviews and meta-analyses identified through PubMed (Ovid) and other databases and published in English. Given the large number of reviews specific to depression, anxiety, substance abuse and/or eating disorders, we did not focus on reviews that examined the effects of Internet-based interventions on mental health disorders in general. Each article was reviewed and summarized by one of the senior authors, and this review was then reviewed by the other senior authors. We did not address issues of prevention, cost-effectiveness, implementation or dissemination, as these are addressed in other reviews in this supplement. Results: Across Internet-based intervention studies addressing depression, anxiety, substance abuse and eating disorders primarily among adults, almost all reviews and meta-analyses found that these interventions successfully reduce symptoms and are efficacious treatments. Generally, effect sizes for Internet-based interventions treating eating disorders and substance abuse are lower compared with interventions for depression and anxiety. Conclusions: Given the effectiveness of Internet-based interventions to reduce symptoms of these common mental health disorders, efforts are needed to examine issues of how they can be best disseminated and implemented in a variety of health care and other settings.
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