Online mental health forums and rural resilience: mixed methods study and logic model

Artur Steiner*, Jane Farmer, Peter Kamstra, Karen Carlisle, Anthony McCosker, Sue Kilpatrick

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)
26 Downloads (Pure)


Background: Rural mental health is a growing area of concern internationally, and online mental health forums offer a potential response to addressing service gaps in rural communities. Objective: The objective of this study was to explore and identify pathways by which online peer support mental health forums help to build resilience for rural residents experiencing mental ill-health by contributing to overcoming their specific contextual challenges. Methods: We developed a Theoretical Resilience Framework and applied it to 3000 qualitative posts from 3 Australian online mental health forums and to data from 30 interviews with rural forum users. Results: Drawing on the findings and an abductive approach, a logic model was developed to illustrate links between the resilience resources built and enabling features of forums that make them spaces that facilitate resilience. Conclusions: The study demonstrated that online forums make valuable contributions to social well-being and access to a range of timely support services for rural people experiencing mental ill-health, and, while doing so, involve users in the processes of resilience building. The study provides a new way for practitioners to frame the work of and value produced by forums. It gives a logic model that can be used in evaluation and audit as it facilitates a causal framing of how forums, as an intervention, link with resilience outcomes. Ultimately, the study contributes to developing new knowledge about how rural resilience building can be conceptualized and measured while showing how forums are part of contemporary health service provision in rural places.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere47459
Number of pages17
JournalJMIR Mental Health
Publication statusPublished - 28 Jun 2023


  • online forums
  • logic model
  • personal resilience
  • mental health
  • rurality

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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