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Evidence based mental health and Web 2.0
  1. Stephen Ginn
  1. Correspondence to Dr Stephen Ginn, Current position: CT3 Psychiatry trainee; Ladywell Unit, Lewisham Hospital, Lewisham High Street, London SE13 6LH, UK; mail{at}

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Introduction: Web 1.0 versus Web 2.0

Since its introduction in the early 1990s, the web has evolved significantly. Initially, most websites had a passive user role and either displayed static information or facilitated online transactions. However, recently the web has become more interactive and many of the most popular websites are now online applications which depend heavily on user participation.

This participatory model of web usage has come to be loosely known as ‘Web 2.0’ and the initial non-participatory web correspondingly as ‘Web 1.0’. The term has been popular since 20041 ,2 and it is as much ideological as technical. Applications associated with Web 2.0 commonly facilitate the creation and exchange of user generated content. Examples include blogs, social networking sites, wikis and media sharing sites. These sorts of sites have become some of the most visited and discussed about properties on the internet.

Web 2.0 applications are predominately easy to use and free of charge and respond much more rapidly to events than do traditional media. They offer new ways for clinicians to access, share and evaluate healthcare information. Due to their interactive nature they are constantly evolving and enriching and anyone who uses them assists in their development. However, they also have limitations that need to be understood.

Healthcare professionals have yet to take full advantage of Web 2.0 technologies. In this article I will discuss and critique Web 2.0's major applications and their potential for the practice of evidence based medicine and mental health.

Web 2.0 Applications

Blogs, wikis and microblogs (together with Really Simple Syndication (RSS)) are reviewed first as they have had the greatest impact and share some of the same advantages and disadvantages.

Blogs, RSS, wikis and microblogging


The blog was one of the earliest social software tools. Blogs are a very popular form of expression and account for 1.2% of UK internet traffic.3 They …

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