We explored the possibility of carrying out clinical research on the Internet. To do so, we compared psychometric and demographic variables between two groups of sufferers of depersonalization disorder, one recruited via the Internet, the other from outpatients attending the Depersonalization Research Unit. No differences were found in demographics or features of depersonalization. Those seen in the clinic were, however, significantly more depressed. We then explored the answers to several questions posted on a depersonalization bulletin board by a second group of Internet users. Useful information on symptoms, precipitants, and treatment was gained. It is concluded that the Internet could become a valuable tool in clinical psychiatric research.
1 Depersonalisation Research Unit, Institute of Psychiatry and GKT School of Medicine, De Crespigny Park, London, SE5 8AF, United Kingdom. Send reprint requests to Dr. Lambert.
This study is funded by the Pilkington Family Trust.
We thank Andrew Cook for permission to use the Depersonalization Bulletin Board, and the users of the web site for their helpful responses.