The current theme issue brings together a group of papers presented at the First International E-Mental Health Summit in Amsterdam in 2009 organized by the Trimbos Institute in collaboration with the International Society for Research on Internet Interventions (ISRII) [19
], VU University Amsterdam, and the University of Amsterdam (UvA). The summit welcomed more than 500 people from over 40 countries.
The summit was preceded by the fourth ISRII meeting, which was opened by Professor Pim Cuijpers (VU University Amsterdam, Netherlands). He highlighted the need for international collaboration – a need illustrated by the growing numbers of ISRII participants. He symbolically transferred the ISRII chair to Professor Helen Christensen, who will lead ISRII up to its fifth meeting in Sydney, Australia, in April 2011.
Many young researchers presented their latest results during the ISRII meeting. Some of them moved beyond traditional cognitive-behavioral effectiveness studies. Björn Paxling (Linköping University, Sweden, and VU University Amsterdam, Netherlands), for example, ventured to compare Web-based cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) with Internet-delivered psychoanalytic therapy for general anxiety disorder (GAD). He found that the two interventions had comparable impacts in terms of clinical improvement. The ISRII 2009 Best Paper Award was won by Sylvia Gerhards (Maastricht University, Netherlands), who reported on one of the first economic evaluations of unguided online CBT for depression in primary care [20
]. It favored online CBT alone in comparison with treatment as usual as well as treatment as usual supplemented by online CBT.
At the summit itself, 195 presentations were given by academics, health professionals, and policymakers, including some of the world’s most respected experts on eHealth intervention evaluation and dissemination research (see www.ementalhealthsummit.org). Presentations highlighted the effectiveness of Web-based treatment, new treatment developments, novel research methodologies, and the need for international collaboration. The summit was opened by Dr. Annemiek van Bolhuis, a deputy of the Dutch Minister of Health, who spoke of the importance of e-mental health as a response to growing demand and rising costs in mental health care. Dr. Jan Walburg, chair of the board of the Trimbos Institute, stressed the importance of mental well-being in the life cycle and the potential role of information and communication technologies in fostering it.
At the close of the summit, Professor Isaac Marks (University College London, London, United Kingdom) and Professor Alfred Lange (University of Amsterdam, Netherlands) were honored by the ISRII board as founding fathers of e-mental health in research and practice. It was also in Amsterdam that Professor Lange introduced in 1999 the first Web-based treatment program for people with posttraumatic stress disorders, known as Interapy.
This theme issue illuminates the evolving fields of eHealth and e-mental health, including topics such as the need for international collaboration, ethical considerations, cost-effectiveness, treatment attrition, and self-management.
Professor Ricardo Muñoz at the E-Mental Health Summit