Year: 2021 Source: BMJ Open. DOI:10.1136/bmjopen-2020-04790 SIEC No: 20210520

Objective:s Online support can be a crucial source of  support for individuals experiencing suicidal behaviours, with forum moderators being pivotal in terms of the role they play in times of personal mental health emergencies. This study identified what is empirically known about the professional practices of health professionals who are online mental health forum moderators and provide support to individuals experiencing suicidal behaviours.

Design: The Levac, Colquhoun and O’Brien extension of the Arksey and O’Malley scoping review framework was used.

Search strategy: The Psychology Collection (EBSCO), PsycINFO (EBSCO), Web of Science, Taylor and Francis Online, SAGE Journals and Science Direct databases were  searched for articles that featured a result relating to an online forum; included participants who worked as online moderators or facilitators and focused on suicide or  self-harm. Results were limited to peer-reviewed articles published in English from 1990 onwards. As a quality assurance measure, grey literature (nonacademic literature) was not included. Reference lists of included articles were hand-searched.

Results:  There were 397 articles initially identified after applying inclusion and exclusion criteria, with five articles included for synthesis. All articles received a  m moderate quality rating. Only one article featured a moderator who was a qualified health professional; the moderators in the remaining articles were volunteers who  undertook preservice training. We found that there is little research that examines the professional working practices of online moderators who support individuals  experiencing suicidal behaviours.

Conclusions: The dearth of research focusing on the professional practices of online forum moderators is cause for concern given that individuals experiencing suicidal  behaviours are increasingly turning to online forums when in crisis. Future research should focus on online moderators’ practice through interviewing moderators about  their professional practices and by examining online moderator practice as it occurs in situ.