JMIR Publications

JMIR Mental Health

Internet interventions, technologies and digital innovations for mental health and behaviour change

Advertisement

Journal Description

JMIR Mental Health (JMH, ISSN 2368-7959) is a PubMed-indexed, peer-reviewed sister journal of JMIR, the leading eHealth journal (Impact Factor 2016: 5.175). 

JMIR Mental Health focusses on digital health and Internet interventions, technologies and electronic innovations (software and hardware) for mental health, addictions, online counselling and behaviour change. This includes formative evaluation and system descriptions, theoretical papers, review papers, viewpoint/vision papers, and rigorous evaluations.

JMIR Mental Health publishes even faster and has a broader scope with including papers which are more technical or more formative/developmental than what would be published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research

JMIR Mental Health features a rapid and thorough peer-review process, professional copyediting, professional production of PDF, XHTML, and XML proofs. The journal is indexed in PubMed, PubMed Central, and ESCI (Emerging Sources Citation Index).

JMIR Mental Health adheres to the same quality standards as JMIR and all articles published here are also cross-listed in the Table of Contents of JMIR, the worlds' leading medical journal in health sciences / health services research and health informatics.

Editorial Board members are currently being recruited, please contact us if you are interested (jmir.editorial.office at gmail.com).

 

Recent Articles:

  • Source: Pixabay; Copyright: StockSnap; URL: https://pixabay.com/en/laptop-apple-macbook-computer-2562361/; License: Public Domain (CC0).

    Web-Based Cognitive Remediation Improves Supported Employment Outcomes in Severe Mental Illness: Randomized Controlled Trial

    Abstract:

    Background: Finding work is a top priority for most people; however, this goal remains out of reach for the majority of individuals with a severe mental illness (SMI) who remain on benefits or are unemployed. Supported employment (SE) programs aimed at returning people with a severe mental illness to work are successful; however, they still leave a significant number of people with severe mental illness unemployed. Cognitive deficits are commonly found in SMI and are a powerful predictor of poor outcome. Fortunately, these deficits are amenable to treatment with cognitive remediation therapy (CRT) that significantly improves cognition in SMI. CRT combined with SE significantly increases the likelihood of individuals with severe mental illness obtaining and staying in work. However, the availability of CRT is limited in many settings. Objective: The aim of this study was to examine whether Web-based CRT combined with a SE program can improve the rate return to work of people with severe mental illness. Methods: A total of 86 people with severe mental illness (mean age 39.6 years; male: n=55) who were unemployed and who had joined a SE program were randomized to either a Web-based CRT program (CogRem) or an Internet-based control condition (WebInfo). Primary outcome measured was hours worked over 6 months post treatment. Results: At 6 months, those participants randomized to CogRem had worked significantly more hours (P=.01) and had earned significantly more money (P=.03) than those participants randomized to the WebInfo control condition. No change was observed in cognition. Conclusions: This study corroborates other work that has found a synergistic effect of combining CRT with a SE program and extends this to the use of Web-based CRT. The lack of any improvement in cognition obscures the mechanism by which an improved wage outcome for participants randomized to the active treatment was achieved. However, the study substantially lowers the barrier to the deployment of CRT with other psychosocial interventions for severe mental illness. Trial Registration: Australian and New Zealand Clinical Trials Registry (ANZCTR) 12611000849998; http://www.anzctr.org.au/TrialSearch.aspx?searchTxt=12611000849998&isBasic=True (Archived by WebCite at http://www.webcitation.org/6sMKwpeos)

  • A comparison between survey administration on paper, tablet, and mobile phone. Source: Image created by the Authors; Copyright: The Authors; URL: http://mental.jmir.org/2017/3/e36/; License: Licensed by the authors.

    Assessing the Equivalence of Paper, Mobile Phone, and Tablet Survey Responses at a Community Mental Health Center Using Equivalent Halves of a...

    Abstract:

    Background: The computerized administration of self-report psychiatric diagnostic and outcomes assessments has risen in popularity. If results are similar enough across different administration modalities, then new administration technologies can be used interchangeably and the choice of technology can be based on other factors, such as convenience in the study design. An assessment based on item response theory (IRT), such as the Patient-Reported Outcomes Measurement Information System (PROMIS) depression item bank, offers new possibilities for assessing the effect of technology choice upon results. Objective: To create equivalent halves of the PROMIS depression item bank and to use these halves to compare survey responses and user satisfaction among administration modalities—paper, mobile phone, or tablet—with a community mental health care population. Methods: The 28 PROMIS depression items were divided into 2 halves based on content and simulations with an established PROMIS response data set. A total of 129 participants were recruited from an outpatient public sector mental health clinic based in Memphis. All participants took both nonoverlapping halves of the PROMIS IRT-based depression items (Part A and Part B): once using paper and pencil, and once using either a mobile phone or tablet. An 8-cell randomization was done on technology used, order of technologies used, and order of PROMIS Parts A and B. Both Parts A and B were administered as fixed-length assessments and both were scored using published PROMIS IRT parameters and algorithms. Results: All 129 participants received either Part A or B via paper assessment. Participants were also administered the opposite assessment, 63 using a mobile phone and 66 using a tablet. There was no significant difference in item response scores for Part A versus B. All 3 of the technologies yielded essentially identical assessment results and equivalent satisfaction levels. Conclusions: Our findings show that the PROMIS depression assessment can be divided into 2 equivalent halves, with the potential to simplify future experimental methodologies. Among community mental health care recipients, the PROMIS items function similarly whether administered via paper, tablet, or mobile phone. User satisfaction across modalities was also similar. Because paper, tablet, and mobile phone administrations yielded similar results, the choice of technology should be based on factors such as convenience and can even be changed during a study without adversely affecting the comparability of results.

  • Source: Image created by the authors; Copyright: The Authors; URL: http://mental.jmir.org/2017/3/e35/; License: Creative Commons Attribution (CC-BY).

    A Validation Study of the Web Screening Questionnaire (WSQ) Compared With the Mini-International Neuropsychiatric Interview-Plus (MINI-Plus)

    Abstract:

    Background: There is a need for brief screening methods for psychiatric disorders in clinical practice. This study assesses the validity and accuracy of a brief self-report screening questionnaire, the Web Screening Questionnaire (WSQ), in detecting psychiatric disorders in a study group comprising the general population and psychiatric outpatients aged 18 years and older. Objective: The aim of this study was to investigate whether the WSQ is an adequate test to screen for the presence of depressive and anxiety disorders in clinical practice. Methods: Participants were 1292 adults (1117 subjects from the general population and 175 psychiatric outpatients), aged 18 to 65 years. The discriminant characteristics of the WSQ were examined in relation to the (“gold standard”) Mini-International Neuropsychiatric Interview-Plus (MINI-Plus) disorders, by means of sensitivity, specificity, area under the curve (AUC), and positive and negative predictive values (PPVs, NPVs). Results: The specificity of the WSQ to individually detect depressive disorders, anxiety disorders, and alcohol abuse or dependence ranged from 0.89 to 0.97 for most disorders, with the exception of post-traumatic stress disorder (0.52) and specific phobia (0.73). The sensitivity values ranged from 0.67 to 1.00, with the exception of depressive disorder (0.56) and alcohol abuse or dependence (0.56). Given the low prevalence of separate disorders in the general population sample, NPVs were extremely high across disorders (≥0.97), whereas PPVs were of poor strength (range 0.02-0.33). Conclusions: In this study group, the WSQ was a relatively good screening tool to identify individuals without a depressive or anxiety disorder, as it accurately identified those unlikely to suffer from these disorders (except for post-traumatic stress disorders and specific phobias). However, in case of a positive WSQ screening result, further diagnostic procedures are required.

  • Source: Pixabay; Copyright: Alexandra Koch; URL: https://pixabay.com/en/balance-stones-meditation-zen-1372677/; License: Public Domain (CC0).

    Mobile Mindfulness Intervention on an Acute Psychiatric Unit: Feasibility and Acceptability Study

    Abstract:

    Background: Aggression and violence on acute psychiatric inpatient units is extensive and leads to negative sequelae for staff and patients. With increasingly acute inpatient milieus due to shorter lengths of stay, inpatient staff is limited in training and time to be able to provide treatments. Mobile technology provides a new platform for offering treatment on such units, but it has not been tested for feasibility or usability in this particular setting. Objective: The aim of this study was to examine the feasibility, usability, and acceptability of a brief mindfulness meditation mobile phone app intended to reduce anger and aggression in acute psychiatric inpatients with schizophrenia, schizoaffective disorder, or bipolar disorder, and a history of violence. Methods: Participants were recruited between November 1, 2015 and June 1, 2016. A total of 13 inpatients at an acute care state hospital carried mobile phones for 1 week and were asked to try a commercially available mindfulness app called Headspace. The participants completed a usability questionnaire and engaged in a qualitative interview upon completion of the 7 days. In addition, measures of mindfulness, state and trait anger, and cognitive ability were administered before and after the intervention. Results: Of the 13 enrolled participants, 10 used the app for the 7 days of the study and completed all measures. Two additional participants used the app for fewer than 7 days and completed all measures. All participants found the app to be engaging and easy to use. Most (10/12, 83%) felt comfortable using Headspace and 83% (10/12) would recommend it to others. All participants made some effort to try the app, with 6 participants (6/12, 50%) completing the first 10 10-minute “foundation” guided meditations. Conclusions: This is the first known study of the use of a commercially available app as an intervention on acute psychiatric inpatient units. Acutely ill psychiatric inpatients at a state hospital found the Headspace app easy to use, were able to complete a series of meditations, and felt the app helped with anxiety, sleep, and boredom on the unit. There were no instances of an increase in psychotic symptoms reported and there were no episodes of aggression or violence noted in the record.

  • Source: iStock by Getty Images; Copyright: princessdlaf; URL: http://www.istockphoto.com/kr/en/photo/sad-or-bored-gm157430318-10108822; License: Licensed by the authors.

    Internet-Delivered Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Children With Pain-Related Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders: Feasibility Study

    Abstract:

    Background: Pain-related functional gastrointestinal disorders (P-FGIDs; eg, irritable bowel syndrome) are highly prevalent in children and associated with low quality of life, anxiety, and school absence. Treatment options are scarce, and there is a need for effective and accessible treatments. Internet-delivered cognitive behavior therapy (Internet-CBT) based on exposure exercises is effective for adult and adolescent irritable bowel syndrome, but it has not been evaluated for younger children. Objective: The objective of this study was to assess acceptability, feasibility, and potential clinical efficacy of Internet-CBT for children with P-FGIDs. Methods: This was a feasibility study with a within-group design. We included 31 children aged 8-12 years and diagnosed with P-FGID, according to the ROME III criteria. Mean duration of abdominal symptoms at baseline was 3.8 years (standard deviation [SD] 2.6). The treatment was therapist-guided and consisted of 10 weekly modules of exposure-based Internet-CBT. The children were instructed to provoke abdominal symptoms in a graded manner and to engage in previously avoided activities. The parents were taught to decrease their attention to their children’s pain behaviors and to reinforce and support their work with the exposures. Assessments included treatment satisfaction, subjective treatment effect, gastrointestinal symptoms, quality of life, pain intensity, anxiety, depression, and school absence. Data were collected at pretreatment, posttreatment, and 6-month follow-up. Means, standard errors (SEs), and Cohen d effect sizes were estimated based on multi-level linear mixed models. Results: Most children 25/31 (81%) completed 9 or 10 of the 10 treatment modules. Almost all children, 28/31 (90%), reported that the treatment had helped them to deal more effectively with their symptoms, and 27/31 (87%) children declared that their symptoms had improved during the treatment. Assessments from the parents were in accordance with the children’s reports. No child or parent reported that the symptoms had worsened. We observed a large within-group effect size on the primary outcome measure, child-rated gastrointestinal symptoms from pretreatment to posttreatment (Cohen d=1.14, P<.001, 95% CI 0.69-1.61), and this effect size was maintained at 6-month follow-up (Cohen d=1.40, P<.001, 95% CI 1.04-1.81). We also observed significant improvements from pretreatment to posttreatment on a wide range of child- and parent-rated measures including quality of life, pain intensity, anxiety, depression, and school absence. All results remained stable or were further improved at 6-month follow-up. Conclusions: This study shows that children with longstanding P-FGIDs, and their parents, perceive exposure-based Internet-CBT as a helpful and feasible treatment. The included children improved significantly despite a long duration of abdominal symptoms before the intervention. The treatment shows potential to be highly effective for P-FGIDs. The results need to be confirmed in a randomized controlled trial (RCT).

  • Traffic light imagery used in Man Central module. Source: Image created by the authors; Copyright: Matthew Johnstone; URL: https://matthewjohnstone.com.au/; License: Creative Commons Attribution + Noncommercial + NoDerivatives (CC-BY-NC-ND).

    Preliminary Evaluation of a Brief Web and Mobile Phone Intervention for Men With Depression: Men’s Positive Coping Strategies and Associated Depression,...

    Abstract:

    Background: Previous research has identified that men experiencing depression do not always access appropriate health services. Web-based interventions represent an alternative treatment option for men, are effective in reducing anxiety and depression, and have potential for wide dissemination. However, men do not access Web-based programs at the same rate as women. Programs with content explicitly tailored to men’s mental health needs are required. Objective: This study evaluated the applicability of Man Central, a new Web and mobile phone intervention for men with depression. The impact of the use of Man Central on depression, resilience, and work and social functioning was assessed. Methods: A recruitment flier was distributed via social media, email networks, newsletters, research registers, and partner organizations. A single-group, repeated measures design was used. The primary outcome was symptoms of depression. Secondary outcomes included externalizing symptoms, resilience, and work and social functioning. Man Central comprises regular mood, symptom, and behavior monitoring, combined with three 15-min interactive sessions. Clinical features are grounded in cognitive behavior therapy and problem-solving therapy. A distinguishing feature is the incorporation of positive strategies identified by men as useful in preventing and managing depression. Participants were directed to use Man Central for a period of 4 weeks. Linear mixed modeling with intention-to-treat analysis assessed associations between the intervention and the primary and secondary outcomes. Results: A total of 144 men aged between 18 and 68 years and with at least mild depression enrolled in the study. The symptoms most often monitored by men included motivation (471 instances), depression (399), sleep (323), anxiety (316), and stress (262). Reminders were scheduled by 60.4% (87/144). Significant improvements were observed in depression symptoms (P<.001, d=0.68), depression risk, and externalizing symptoms (P<.001, d=0.88) and work and social functioning (P<.001, d=0.78). No change was observed in measures of resilience. Participants reported satisfaction with the program, with a majority saying that it was easy (42/51, 82%) and convenient (41/51, 80%) to use. Study attrition was high; 27.1% (39/144) and 8.3% (12/144) of the participants provided complete follow-up data and partial follow-up data, respectively, whereas the majority (93/144, 64.6%) did not complete follow-up measures. Conclusions: This preliminary evaluation demonstrated the potential of using electronic health (eHealth) tools to deliver self-management strategies to men with depressive symptoms. Man Central may meet the treatment needs of a subgroup of depressed men who are willing to engage with an e-mental health program. With further research, it may provide an acceptable option to those unwilling or unable to access traditional mental health services. Given the limitations of the study design, prospective studies are required, using controlled designs to further elucidate the effect of the program over time.

  • Screenshot of the intervention (montage). Source: The Authors; Copyright: Sabine Elisabeth Hanisch; URL: http://mental.jmir.org/2017/3/e31/; License: Creative Commons Attribution (CC-BY).

    Development and Evaluation of Digital Game-Based Training for Managers to Promote Employee Mental Health and Reduce Mental Illness Stigma at Work:...

    Abstract:

    Background: To counteract the negative impact of mental health problems on business, organizations are increasingly investing in mental health intervention measures. However, those services are often underused, which, to a great extent, can be attributed to fear of stigmatization. Nevertheless, so far only a few workplace interventions have specifically targeted stigma, and evidence on their effectiveness is limited. Objective: The objective of this study was to develop and evaluate a digital game-based training program for managers to promote employee mental health and reduce mental illness stigma at work. Methods: We describe the empirical development of Leadership Training in Mental Health Promotion (LMHP), a digital game-based training program for leaders. A 1-group pre-post design and a 3-month follow-up were used for training evaluation. We applied multilevel growth models to investigate change over time in the dependent variables knowledge, attitudes, self-efficacy, and intentions to promote employee mental health in 48 managers of a global enterprise in the United Kingdom. Participants were mainly male (44/48, 92%) and ranged in age from 32 to 58 (mean 46.0, SD 7.2) years. Results: We found a positive impact of the Web-based training program on managers’ knowledge of mental health and mental illness (P<.001), on attitudes toward people with mental health problems (P<.01), and on their self-efficacy to deal with mental health situations at work (P<.001), with the exception of intentions to promote employee mental health, which was initially high. Conclusions: Results provide first evidence of the effectiveness of LMHP to positively affect managers’ skills to promote employee mental health at work. Furthermore, the high rate of participation in LMHP (48/54, 89%) supports the use of digital game-based interventions to increase user engagement and user experience in mental health programs at work.

  • Source: The authors; Copyright: Xenzone; URL: https://kooth.com; License: Fair use/fair dealings.

    Peer Communication in Online Mental Health Forums for Young People: Directional and Nondirectional Support

    Abstract:

    Background: The Internet has the potential to help young people by reducing the stigma associated with mental health and enabling young people to access services and professionals which they may not otherwise access. Online support can empower young people, help them develop new online friendships, share personal experiences, communicate with others who understand, provide information and emotional support, and most importantly help them feel less alone and normalize their experiences in the world. Objective: The aim of the research was to gain an understanding of how young people use an online forum for emotional and mental health issues. Specifically, the project examined what young people discuss and how they seek support on the forum (objective 1). Furthermore, it looked at how the young service users responded to posts to gain an understanding of how young people provided each other with peer-to-peer support (objective 2). Methods: Kooth is an online counseling service for young people aged 11-25 years and experiencing emotional and mental health problems. It is based in the United Kingdom and provides support that is anonymous, confidential, and free at the point of delivery. Kooth provided the researchers with all the online forum posts between a 2-year period, which resulted in a dataset of 622 initial posts and 3657 initial posts with responses. Thematic analysis was employed to elicit key themes from the dataset. Results: The findings support the literature that online forums provide young people with both informational and emotional support around a wide array of topics. The findings from this large dataset also reveal that this informational or emotional support can be viewed as directive or nondirective. The nondirective approach refers to when young people provide others with support by sharing their own experiences. These posts do not include explicit advice to act in a particular way, but the sharing process is hoped to be of use to the poster. The directive approach, in contrast, involves individuals making an explicit suggestion of what they believe the poster should do. Conclusions: This study adds to the research exploring what young people discuss within online forums and provides insights into how these communications take place. Furthermore, it highlights the challenge that organizations may encounter in mediating support that is multidimensional in nature (informational-emotional, directive-nondirective).

  • Sleep Ninja application. Source: Image created by the authors; Copyright: The authors; URL: http://mental.jmir.org/2017/3/e28/; License: Creative Commons Attribution (CC-BY).

    A Smartphone App for Adolescents With Sleep Disturbance: Development of the Sleep Ninja

    Abstract:

    Background: Sleep disturbances are common in young people and have consequences for academic, social, emotional, and behavioral development. The most effective treatment is cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia (CBT-I), with evidence suggesting that it is efficacious even when delivered digitally. Objective: There are no commercially available digitally delivered CBT-I programs for use by young people. The aim of this project was to develop a smartphone app that delivers CBT-I to young people to improve sleep. Methods: To inform the development of the app, young people (N=21) aged between 12 and 16 years attended one of the 3 focus groups (each with 4-10 participants). These focus groups were conducted at different stages of the development process such that the process could be iterative. Participants were asked the reasons why they might use an app to help them sleep, the kinds of features or functions that they would like to see in such an app, and any concerns they may have in using the app. Data were analyzed using a thematic analysis approach. Of the issues discussed by the participants, the researchers selected themes associated with content, functionality, and accessibility and user experience to examine, as these were most informative for the app design process. Results: In terms of content, young people were interested in receiving information about recommended sleep guidelines and personalized information for their age group. They reported that keeping a sleep diary was acceptable, but they should be able to complete it flexibly, in their own time. They reported mixed views about the use of the phone’s accelerometer. Young people felt that the functionality of the app should include elements of game playing if they were to remain engaged with the app. Flexibility of use and personalized features were also desirable, and there were mixed views about the schedule of notifications and reminders. Participants reported that for the app to be accessible and usable, it should be from a trusted developer, have engaging aesthetics, have a layout that is easy to navigate, not rely on Internet coverage, and preferably be free. Participants felt that being able to conceal the purpose of the app from peers was an advantage and were willing to provide personal information to use the app if the purpose and use of that information was made clear. Overall, participants endorsed the use of the app for sleep problems among their age group and reported motivation to use it. Conclusions: The Sleep Ninja is a fully-automated app that delivers CBT-I to young people, incorporating the features and information that young people reported they would expect from this app. A pilot study testing the feasibility, acceptability, and efficacy of the Sleep Ninja is now underway.

  • Source: Wikimedia Commons; Copyright: Wesha; URL: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Tally_Counters.jpg; License: Creative Commons Attribution + ShareAlike (CC-BY-SA).

    Patient-Driven Innovation for Mobile Mental Health Technology: Case Report of Symptom Tracking in Schizophrenia

    Abstract:

    This patient perspective piece presents an important case at the intersection of mobile health technology, mental health, and innovation. The potential of digital technologies to advance mental health is well known, although the challenges are being increasingly recognized. Making mobile health work for mental health will require broad collaborations. We already know that those who experience mental illness are excited by the potential technology, with many actively engaged in research, fundraising, advocacy, and entrepreneurial ventures. But we don’t always hear their voice as often as others. There is a clear advantage for their voice to be heard: so we can all learn from their experiences at the direct intersection of mental health and technology innovation. The case is cowritten with an individual with schizophrenia, who openly shares his name and personal experience with mental health technology in order to educate and inspire others. This paper is the first in JMIR Mental Health’s patient perspective series, and we welcome future contributions from those with lived experience.

  • Doors illustrating choices/preference. Source: Pixabay; Copyright: Arek Socha; URL: https://pixabay.com/en/doors-choices-choose-open-decision-1767563/; License: Public Domain (CC0).

    Preferences for Internet-Based Mental Health Interventions in an Adult Online Sample: Findings From an Online Community Survey

    Abstract:

    Background: Despite extensive evidence that Internet interventions are effective in treating mental health problems, uptake of Internet programs is suboptimal. It may be possible to make Internet interventions more accessible and acceptable through better understanding of community preferences for delivery of online programs. Objective: This study aimed to assess community preferences for components, duration, frequency, modality, and setting of Internet interventions for mental health problems. Methods: A community-based online sample of 438 Australian adults was recruited using social media advertising and administered an online survey on preferences for delivery of Internet interventions, along with scales assessing potential correlates of these preferences. Results: Participants reported a preference for briefer sessions, although they recognized a trade-off between duration and frequency of delivery. No clear preference for the modality of delivery emerged, although a clear majority preferred tailored programs. Participants preferred to access programs through a computer rather than a mobile device. Although most participants reported that they would seek help for a mental health problem, more participants had a preference for face-to-face sources only than online programs only. Younger, female, and more educated participants were significantly more likely to prefer Internet delivery. Conclusions: Adults in the community have a preference for Internet interventions with short modules that are tailored to individual needs. Individuals who are reluctant to seek face-to-face help may also avoid Internet interventions, suggesting that better implementation of existing Internet programs requires increasing acceptance of Internet interventions and identifying specific subgroups who may be resistant to seeking help.

  • Man at computer with alcohol. Source: Flickr; Copyright: Ivana Vasilj; URL: http://www.flickr.com/photos/41619721@N02/8384537140; License: Creative Commons Attribution + Noncommercial + NoDerivatives (CC-BY-NC-ND).

    Initial Progress Toward Development of a Voice-Based Computer-Delivered Motivational Intervention for Heavy Drinking College Students: An Experimental Study

    Abstract:

    Background: Computer-delivered interventions have been shown to be effective in reducing alcohol consumption in heavy drinking college students. However, these computer-delivered interventions rely on mouse, keyboard, or touchscreen responses for interactions between the users and the computer-delivered intervention. The principles of motivational interviewing suggest that in-person interventions may be effective, in part, because they encourage individuals to think through and speak aloud their motivations for changing a health behavior, which current computer-delivered interventions do not allow. Objective: The objective of this study was to take the initial steps toward development of a voice-based computer-delivered intervention that can ask open-ended questions and respond appropriately to users’ verbal responses, more closely mirroring a human-delivered motivational intervention. Methods: We developed (1) a voice-based computer-delivered intervention that was run by a human controller and that allowed participants to speak their responses to scripted prompts delivered by speech generation software and (2) a text-based computer-delivered intervention that relied on the mouse, keyboard, and computer screen for all interactions. We randomized 60 heavy drinking college students to interact with the voice-based computer-delivered intervention and 30 to interact with the text-based computer-delivered intervention and compared their ratings of the systems as well as their motivation to change drinking and their drinking behavior at 1-month follow-up. Results: Participants reported that the voice-based computer-delivered intervention engaged positively with them in the session and delivered content in a manner consistent with motivational interviewing principles. At 1-month follow-up, participants in the voice-based computer-delivered intervention condition reported significant decreases in quantity, frequency, and problems associated with drinking, and increased perceived importance of changing drinking behaviors. In comparison to the text-based computer-delivered intervention condition, those assigned to voice-based computer-delivered intervention reported significantly fewer alcohol-related problems at the 1-month follow-up (incident rate ratio 0.60, 95% CI 0.44-0.83, P=.002). The conditions did not differ significantly on perceived importance of changing drinking or on measures of drinking quantity and frequency of heavy drinking. Conclusions: Results indicate that it is feasible to construct a series of open-ended questions and a bank of responses and follow-up prompts that can be used in a future fully automated voice-based computer-delivered intervention that may mirror more closely human-delivered motivational interventions to reduce drinking. Such efforts will require using advanced speech recognition capabilities and machine-learning approaches to train a program to mirror the decisions made by human controllers in the voice-based computer-delivered intervention used in this study. In addition, future studies should examine enhancements that can increase the perceived warmth and empathy of voice-based computer-delivered intervention, possibly through greater personalization, improvements in the speech generation software, and embodying the computer-delivered intervention in a physical form.

Citing this Article

Right click to copy or hit: ctrl+c (cmd+c on mac)

Latest Submissions Open for Peer-Review:

View All Open Peer Review Articles
  • Standalone Effects of a Cognitive Behavioral Intervention Using a Smartphone Application on Psychological Distress and Alcohol Consumption among Japanese Workers: A Non-Randomized Controlled Trial

    Date Submitted: Sep 18, 2017

    Open Peer Review Period: Sep 20, 2017 - Sep 27, 2017

    Background: Recent research shows computer-delivered interventions to be effective for treating psychological distress and drinking-related problems. Meanwhile, no studies have investigated standalone...

    Background: Recent research shows computer-delivered interventions to be effective for treating psychological distress and drinking-related problems. Meanwhile, no studies have investigated standalone effects of a smartphone-based cognitive behavior therapy (CBT) without any human contact. A smartphone application, called Self Record, that facilitates cognitive restructuring through self-monitoring of daily thoughts and activities was developed. Objective: The current study investigated the effectiveness of the Self Record application and the moderating effect of negative mood regulation expectancies (NMRE), which are beliefs about one's ability to control one's negative mood. Methods: A research marketing company recruited 723 Japanese full-time workers (age 20-59) with mild to moderate psychological distress and an interest in trying the self-monitoring application. Those who were willing to use the application used it for four weeks as an intervention group, while those who chose not to use the application were placed as a control group. Both groups completed pre-test and post-test measures of Negative Mood Regulation Scale (NMR-J), WHO-Five Well-being index (WHO-5), K6, Center for Epidemiological Studies Depression (CES-D), State-Trait Anxiety Scale (STAI), and Daily Drinking Questionnaire (DDQ). Results: Contrary to our hypothesis, results showed that participants in the intervention group had increases in anxiety, χ23 = 8.54, P = .04, typical drinking, χ23 = 13.99, P = .003, and heavy drinking, χ23 = 14.69, P = .002, compared to those in the control condition. NMRE moderated heavy drinking, F2,185 = 4.69, P = .01. For those with high NMRE, heavy drinking decreased among participants in the control condition but increased among those in the intervention condition; this difference was non-significant among participants with low NMRE. Effect sizes were small in all findings. Conclusions: Cognitive restructuring methods of standalone smartphone interventions may heighten individuals’ awareness of their pathological thought and behavior but may be insufficient to decrease psychological distress and drinking unless treated with a more intense or face-to-face intervention.

  • WalkAlong: process evaluation of an online mental health portal using Google Analytics

    Date Submitted: Sep 7, 2017

    Open Peer Review Period: Sep 11, 2017 - Nov 6, 2017

    Background: Despite the increasing amount of research on online mental health interventions with proven efficacy, high attrition rates decrease their effectiveness. Continued process evaluations shoul...

    Background: Despite the increasing amount of research on online mental health interventions with proven efficacy, high attrition rates decrease their effectiveness. Continued process evaluations should be performed to maximize the target population’s engagement. Google analytics has been used to evaluate various health-related web-based programs, and may also be useful for online mental health programs. WalkAlong.ca is a youth-oriented mental health web-portal that includes various tools including self-assessment and monitoring, mental health literacy pages, and links to additional resources and online programs (ie. MoodGYM – a free, interactive web program designed to prevent depression). Objective: This evaluation study is aimed to evaluate WalkAlong using Google Analytics to inform the improvement strategy for the platform, and to demonstrate the use of Google Analytics as a tool for process evaluation of e-mental health interventions. Methods: Google Analytics was used to monitor user activity during WalkAlong’s first year of operation (Nov. 13, 2013 – Nov. 13, 2014). User behaviour based on the device (desktop, mobile phones, and tablets) used, and channels (direct via URL (Uniform Resource Locator), organic search, referrals) used to access the website were observed. New and returning users, depth and length of average sessions, and visits to individual WalkAlong pages were also observed. These indicators were measured using descriptive statistics in terms of proportion of sessions (%), bounce rate (%), pages visited per session (N), mean session duration (minutes seconds), and goal conversion rate (%). Bounce rate measures the proportion of sessions that were ended after visiting only a single page. Goal conversion rate measures the proportion of sessions that achieved a goal out of the total sessions where goals are defined as creating an account. Results: The results cover data from the first year of operation, including data from 3076 unique users viewing 29,299 pages. The majority of visitors were desktop users (82.3%) with a lower bounce rate (39.6%) compared to tablets (48.7%) and smartphones (61.6%). Direct traffic (access via URL) accounted for the largest proportion with 45.5% among other channels with low bounce rate (36.6%). Returning users had lower bounce rate (31.0%) than new users (51.6%). Users spent longer average time on the screener tool (3m 04s) than the mindsteps (0m 35s) and self-help exercises (1m 08s). Conclusions: Future improvement for WalkAlong should improve mobile accessibility, engage new users, and engage users more with mindsteps and self-help exercises. The data provided by Google Analytics, though informative, can be supplemented by other evaluation methods (ie. qualitative methods) in order to better determine the modifications to improve user engagement. Google Analytics can play a vital role in highlighting the preference of those using e-mental health tools.

  • Psychosocial assessment using telehealth in adolescent and young adults with cancer: A randomised pilot study

    Date Submitted: Sep 1, 2017

    Open Peer Review Period: Sep 3, 2017 - Oct 29, 2017

    Background: Adolescent and young adults (AYAs) with cancer are at increased risk of psychosocial difficulties relative to their healthy peers. Current models of in-patient face-to-face psychosocial ca...

    Background: Adolescent and young adults (AYAs) with cancer are at increased risk of psychosocial difficulties relative to their healthy peers. Current models of in-patient face-to-face psychosocial care, whilst essential, may limit the capacity for clinicians to provide timely and personalised assessment and intervention to AYAs who are unable to attend due to barriers such as time, logistics, distance to travel and stigma. Telehealth offers a promising alternative towards increasing access to the provision of evidence-based psychosocial assessment and treatment for AYAs with cancer. Objective: This partially-randomised patient-preference pilot study aimed to examine the feasibility and acceptability of providing psychosocial assessment via telehealth to AYAs currently receiving treatment for cancer, relative to face-to-face delivery. Methods: Patients were eligible if they were: between the ages of 15-25; currently receiving treatment; had sufficient English; and were medically stable. Patients were recruited from oncology clinics/wards, and allocated to receive a psychosocial assessment (AYA Oncology Psychosocial Assessment Measure) with a clinical psychologist or social worker via face-to-face or telehealth modalities using a partially-randomised patient preference model. Patients completed a pre- and post-assessment questionnaire including validated and purposely designed feasibility and acceptability indices (YSQ, Treatment Credibility and Expectations Questionnaire, WAI) and measures of psychosocial wellbeing (K10, Peds-QL-AYA, AYA Oncology Screening Tool). Clinicians also completed a post-assessment questionnaire rating their impressions of the acceptability and feasibility of the intervention delivery via each modality. Results: Patients were recruited from three hospitals in Australia. Of 29 patients approached, 23 consented to participate (response rate = 79%). Participants were randomised to either the telehealth (n=8; 35%; mean age=16.50 years [range=15-23]; females=4 [50%]) or face-to-face (n=11; 62%; mean age=17 years [range=15-22]; females=8 [72.70%]) conditions. Four participants were withdrawn due to logistical/medical complications (attrition rate = 17.4%). The majority 6/8 (75%) of participants in the telehealth group used their own computer/iPad with minor technical difficulties occurring in 3/8 (37.5%) of assessments. Participants from both groups rated high working alliance (WAI: median patient response in the telehealth group = 74 [range: 59-84] and face to face group = 63 [range: 51-84]) and reported positive beliefs regarding the credibility and expectations of their treatment group. Post-assessment preferences between face-to-face or online modalities varied. The majority of patients in the telehealth group (5/8, 63%) reported no preference, whilst 6/11 (55%) in the face-to-face group reported a preference for the face-to-face modality. Conclusions: This study demonstrated that telehealth was acceptable, patient comfort was comparable across modalities, and no significant technological barriers were experienced. Despite this, patients varied in their preferred interview modality, highlighting the need to tailor treatment to patient preference and circumstance. Clinical Trial: ACTRN12614001142628, http://www.anzctr.org.au/TrialSearch.aspx?searchTxt=ACTRN12614001142628&isBasic=True

Advertisement