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Effectively sharing bipolar disorder health information online: The CREST.BD Bipolar Wellness Centre experience

The Internet is a popular source of information amongst people with mood disorders. Research indicates that people with bipolar disorder (BD) are attracted to web-based delivery of self-management information – a cornerstone of effective healthcare. Whilst high-quality information on BD does exist on the Internet, there is a lack of research on how best to maximise patient engagement with credible websites once they have been developed.

The CREST.BD ‘Bipolar Wellness Centre’ (www.bdwellness.com) - launched on World Bipolar Day, March 31st 2015, provides people with BD access to tailored evidence and tools to optimize self-management. The impact of a variety of online and in-person engagement strategies is being evaluated as part of the Bipolar Wellness Centre, including: webinars on 14 areas of BD self-management, videos illustrating concrete examples of self-management, in-person workshops, and a ‘Living Library’, where users ‘check out’ a BD expert via secure telehealth software to tailor self-management approaches.

In this webinar, Dr. Michalak will share findings on the impact of the webinar, video and workshop engagement strategies, and speak to lessons learned from the project about the most effective ways to share health information with people with BD.

Dr. Erin Michalak is an Associate Professor in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada. Her background is in psychology, with a PhD awarded from the University of Wales College of Medicine in the United Kingdom. Her research interests are in bipolar disorder, quality of life, knowledge translation, self-management, e-health, seasonal and nonseasonal depression, and assessment scales for mood disorders. Dr. Michalak’s research has been supported by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), the Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research and the Canadian Psychiatric Research Foundation, amongst others. She is the founder and leader of the ‘Collaborative RESearch Team for the study of psychosocial issues in Bipolar Disorder’ (CREST.BD, www.crestbd.ca), a CIHR-funded Canadian network designed to foster psychosocial research and knowledge translation in BD.  She has published over 80 scientific articles and several books and book chapters. She lives on the Sunshine Coast of British Columbia, where she is an avid mushroom hunter and breeder of Giant Schnauzers.