Using the Internet for collateral information in forensic mental health evaluations – 2018

There is a burgeoning literature regarding using Internet‐based data in employment, university admissions, and healthcare settings, but such pertaining to forensic mental health assessment (FMHA) contexts is only beginning to develop and professional ethics codes have yet to address these issues in depth. We present the first empirical investigation of mental health and related professionals’ (n = 139) attitudes and practices regarding using Internet data in forensic and therapeutic contexts. Respondents reported their experiences and levels of agreement with items measuring beliefs and attitudes toward using Internet‐based data in various professional situations (e.g., 23% have searched the Internet for information about a therapy client, 39% for a forensic examinee, and only 26% opposed the practice for forensic evaluators). They also reported high levels of collective agreement, including feeling that there is a lack of guidance available from professional resources regarding Internet‐related issues. Implications for forensic practice and research are presented.

Gianni Pirelli, Sara Hartigan, Patricia A. Zapf
Behavioral Sciences & the Law, Volume 36, Issue 2, March/April 2018