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VOLUME 2, ISSUE 5     PSYCHNEWS INTERNATIONAL        Oct-Dec 1997
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SECTION 3: FEATURE ARTICLE

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              ON THE BEHAVIOR OF SCIENTISTS OR
        THE IMPACT OF THE INTERNET ON PSYCHOLOGY:
                       PART II

                   Don Corriveau, Ph.D.


Part II - Survey Results

	In a recent editorial, I explored how technological
advancements affected the development of paradigm shifts within
scientific and professional disciplines. In particular, the
editorial explored the impact of technological advances on both
formal and informal processes of communication. Specific attention
was placed on a need to better understand the current impact of the
Internet on the mental health professions. Readers were requested to
complete an on-line survey. This article discusses the results of
that survey.

The Survey
	Respondents for this survey were solicited from two sources.
First, an article by this author appeared in PsychNews International
(PNI). Readers of the article were directed to a web page containing
an electronic form. Next, an announcement requesting survey
respondents was posted to psychology/mental health newsgroups. A
separate yet identical web page allowed us to distinguish
respondents from each group. (The on-line survey can be viewed at
http://ceus.com/survey.htm .)

The Sample
	Forty four individuals responded to the PNI survey and 51
individuals responded to the call posted on newsgroups. Demographic
data and survey results were essentially similar for both groups. Of
95 respondents, 51.6 % resided in the USA. Psychology was the
largest profession (50.5%) followed by psychiatry (11.6%) and social
work (18%). The respondents were engaged in their profession an
average of 13.33 years (range = 1 to 31; S.D.=8.25) and reported
spending an average of 11.56 hours per week on the Internet (range =
1 to 49; S.D. = 8.44).

Results
	Results of the Likert type items are shown in Table 1 below.
(Readers of the Email version of this article may prefer to view the
results in web page form available at http://ceus.com/results.htm .)
Remarkably, 97.9 % reported using the Internet to acquire knowledge
related to their profession. Of these, approximately three quarters
of the sample used the Internet for professional purposes either
"Moderately" or "To a Large Degree." With respect to the type of
Internet activity, 95.7 % reported using newsgroups or mailing lists
for professional purposes. Roughly three quarters checked either
"Moderately" or "To a Large Degree." A sizable number (84.2%) also 
reported using the Internet for Email consultation with colleagues. 
This activity, however, fell mostly in the "Somewhat" (34.7%) and
"Moderately" (34.7%) categories.

	The next two questions pertained to using Internet-resources
with patients. The majority (66.3%) reported never referring
patients/clients to Internet support groups. Of those that did, most
used the "Somewhat" category. A somewhat larger percent of the
sample, "Somewhat" (43.2%) or "Moderately" (17.9%) referred
patients/clients to the Internet for specific information.

	As a whole, a vast majority of the sample used the Internet for
other professional purposes. These activities included learning
about conferences/workshops ( 89.4%), reading on-line professional
journals (81.9%), downloading software in support of professional
work (79.9%), and professional "chat" (89.5%).

	Internet activities less frequently reported included pursuing
Continuing Education (53.2%), conducting psychotherapy (14.9%),
selling products related to mental health (17.9%) and arranging
professional travel plans (51.6%).

	The most interesting question was whether respondents reported
that the Internet affected their professional skill. A large
majority (87.8%) responded affirmatively.

Discussion
	This study's results begin to examine the impact of the
Internet on the mental health professions. For this sample, the
Internet has influenced several facets of professional life. The
most salient aspect appears to involve mechanisms by which
professionals communicate with one another.
	Email and newsgroups represent nearly instantaneous
communication. Beyond monthly Internet service provider fees, Email
and newsgroup communication have few financial constraints. 
Newsgroups and mailing lists allow global dissemination of
information to unlimited recipients. With approximately 70
million Internet users worldwide, all professions are poised to see
an increased global presence within their disciplines.

	In studying the impact of the Internet on the mental health
professions, this study has an obvious limitation. Respondents to
this survey may represent a highly selective sample. The
announcement of the survey was made through 1) an on-line journal
and 2) a call for respondents placed on newsgroups. Clearly, all
respondents represent only one segment of the mental health
professional community; that is, those already using the
Internet. While we cannot assume the extent to which all mental
health professionals conduct psychotherapy or sell mental health
products over the internet, the results do accurately
portray a range of professional activities that involve the
Internet. These activities include communication within the
profession as well as interaction with clients and patients.
	It would be worthwhile to conduct a traditional survey of all
mental health professionals to better understand the percentage of
Internet users within our profession.

Table 1

Results of Survey's Likert Type Items
(Shown in percentages of total sample)

Use the Internet to            Not at   Some-  Mode-   To a Large
                               All      what   rately  Degree
To acquire knowledge related 
to my profession through        2.1     23.2    41.1    33.7
the World Wide Web.

To acquire knowledge related 
to my profession through        4.3     27.2    37      31.5
newsgroups or mailing lists.

To receive consultation from   15.8     34.7    34.7    14.7
colleagues through Email.

To refer patients/clients to   66.3     25.3     7.4     1.1
internet support groups. 	          

To refer patients/clients to   34.7     43.2     17.9    4.2
the internet for specific 
information. 	             

To learn about conferences/    10.6     39.4     35.1   14.9
workshops.

To read Online Professional    18.1     36.2     26.6   19.1
Journals. 	   

To pursue Continuing Education 46.8     25.5     17     10.6
through the internet. 	            

To conduct psychotherapy.      85.1      8.5      6.4     0

To sell products related       82.1      8.4      8.4    1.1
to mental health.

To download software,          21.1     46.3     17.9   14.7
shareware or freeware in  
support of professional work.	

To arrange travel plans        48.4     29.5     16.8    5.3
related to profession.

To share my experiences        10.5     29.5     36.8    23.2
with other professionals 
through the internet. 
	    
Has the internet affected      12.2     37.8     33.3    16.7
your professional skill? 	            

Note: These data are published on a web page at
http://ceus.com/results.htm


Donald P. Corriveau, Ph.D., F.P.P.R. Chairperson,
Department of Psychology University of Massachusetts -
Dartmouth North Dartmouth, MA 02747. USA