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Journal Description

JMIR Mental Health (JMH, ISSN 2368-7959, Editor-in-Chief: John Torous MD MBI) is a premier SCI/PubMed/Scopus-indexed, peer-reviewed journal which has a unique focus on digital health/digital psychiatry/digital psychology/e-mental health, covering Internet/mobile interventions, technologies and electronic innovations (software and hardware) for mental health, including addictions, online counselling and behaviour change. This includes formative evaluation and system descriptions, theoretical papers, review papers, viewpoint/vision papers, and rigorous evaluations related to digital psychiatry, e-mental health, and clinical informatics in psychiatry/psychology. The main themes/topics covered by this journal can be found here.

JMIR Mental Health has an international author- and readership and welcomes submissions from around the world.

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 CentralSCIE (Science Citation Index Expanded)/WoS/JCR (Journal Citation Reports), and Scopus.

 

Recent Articles:

  • Source: freepik; Copyright: pressfoto; URL: https://www.freepik.com/free-photo/female-doctor-with-digital-tablet_6801160.htm#page=1&query=doctor%20with%20computer&position=18;

    Portuguese Psychologists' Attitudes Toward Internet Interventions: Exploratory Cross-Sectional Study

    Abstract:

    Background: Despite the significant body of evidence on the efficacy and cost-effectiveness of internet interventions, the implementation of such programs in Portugal is virtually non-existent. In addition, Portuguese psychologists’ use and their attitudes towards such interventions is largely unknown. Objective: The aim of this study was to explore Portuguese psychologists’ knowledge, training, use and attitudes towards internet interventions; to investigate perceived advantages and limitations of such interventions; identify potential drivers and barriers impacting implementation; and study potential factors associated to previous use and attitudes towards internet interventions. Methods: An online cross-sectional survey was developed by the authors and disseminated by the Portuguese Psychologists Association to its members. Results: A total of 1077 members of the Portuguese Psychologists Association responded to the questionnaire between November 2018 and February 2019. Of these, 37.2% (N=363) were familiar with internet interventions and 19.2% (N=188) considered having the necessary training to work within the field. 29.6% (N=319) of participants reported to have used some form of digital technology to deliver care in the past. Telephone (23.8%; N=256), e-mail (16.2%; N=175) and SMS (16.1%; N=173) services were among the most adopted forms of digital technology, while guided (1.3%; N=14) and unguided (1.5%; N=16) internet interventions were rarely used. Accessibility (79.9%; N=860), convenience (45.7%; N=492) and cost-effectiveness (45.5%; N=490) were considered the most important advantages of internet interventions. Conversely, ethical concerns (40.7%; N=438), client’s ICT illiteracy (43.2%; N=465) and negative attitudes towards internet interventions (37%; N=398) were identified as the main limitations. An assessment of participants attitudes towards internet interventions revealed a slightly negative/neutral stance (Median=46.21; SD=15.06) and revealed greater acceptability towards blended treatment interventions (62.9%; N=615) when compared to standalone internet interventions (18.6%; N=181). Significant associations were found between knowledge (χ24=90.4; P<.001), training (χ24=94.6; P<.001), attitudes (χ23=38.4; P<.001) and previous use of internet interventions and between knowledge (χ212=109.7; P<.001), training (χ212=64.7; P<.001) and attitudes towards such interventions, with psychologists reporting to be ignorant and not having adequate training in the field, being more likely to present more negative attitudes towards these interventions and not having prior experience in its implementation. Conclusions: This study revealed that most Portuguese psychologists are not familiar with and have no training or prior experience using internet interventions and had a slightly negative/neutral attitude towards such interventions. There was greater acceptability towards blended treatment interventions compared to standalone internet interventions. Lack of knowledge and training were identified as the main barriers to overcome, underlining the need of promoting awareness and training initiatives to ensure internet interventions successful implementation.

  • Source: The Authors / Placeit; Copyright: JMIR Publications; URL: http://mental.jmir.org/2020/4/e16460/; License: Licensed by JMIR.

    Digital Peer Support Mental Health Interventions for People With a Lived Experience of a Serious Mental Illness: Systematic Review

    Abstract:

    Background: Peer support is recognized globally as an essential recovery service for people with mental health conditions. With the influx of digital mental health services changing the way mental health care is delivered, peer supporters are increasingly using technology to deliver peer support. In light of these technological advances, there is a need to review and synthesize the emergent evidence for peer-supported digital health interventions for adults with mental health conditions. Objective: The aim of this study was to identify and review the evidence of digital peer support interventions for people with a lived experience of a serious mental illness. Methods: This systematic review was conducted using Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses (PRISMA) procedures. The PubMed, Embase, Web of Science, Cochrane Central, CINAHL, and PsycINFO databases were searched for peer-reviewed articles published between 1946 and December 2018 that examined digital peer support interventions for people with a lived experience of a serious mental illness. Additional articles were found by searching the reference lists from the 27 articles that met the inclusion criteria and a Google Scholar search in June 2019. Participants, interventions, comparisons, outcomes, and study design (PICOS) criteria were used to assess study eligibility. Two authors independently screened titles and abstracts, and reviewed all full-text articles meeting the inclusion criteria. Discrepancies were discussed and resolved. All included studies were assessed for methodological quality using the Methodological Quality Rating Scale. Results: A total of 30 studies (11 randomized controlled trials, 2 quasiexperimental, 15 pre-post designs, and 2 qualitative studies) were included that reported on 24 interventions. Most of the studies demonstrated feasibility, acceptability, and preliminary effectiveness of peer-to-peer networks, peer-delivered interventions supported with technology, and use of asynchronous and synchronous technologies. Conclusions: Digital peer support interventions appear to be feasible and acceptable, with strong potential for clinical effectiveness. However, the field is in the early stages of development and requires well-powered efficacy and clinical effectiveness trials. Trial Registration: PROSPERO CRD42020139037; https://www.crd.york.ac.uk/PROSPERO/display_record.php?RecordID= 139037

  • Source: Jessica D'Arcey; Copyright: The Authors; URL: http://mental.jmir.org/2020/4/e16993/; License: Licensed by JMIR.

    The Use of Text Messaging to Improve Clinical Engagement for Individuals With Psychosis: Systematic Review

    Abstract:

    Background: Individuals experiencing psychosis are at a disproportionate risk for premature disengagement from clinical treatment. Barriers to clinical engagement typically result from funding constraints causing limited access to and flexibility in services. Digital strategies, such as SMS text messaging, offer a low-cost alternative to potentially improve engagement. However, little is known about the efficacy of SMS text messaging in psychosis. Objective: This review aimed to address this gap, providing insights into the relationship between SMS text messaging and clinical engagement in the treatment of psychosis. Methods: Studies examining SMS text messaging as an engagement strategy in the treatment of psychosis were reviewed. Included studies were published from the year 2000 onward in the English language, with no methodological restrictions, and were identified using 3 core databases and gray literature sources. Results: Of the 233 studies extracted, 15 were eligible for inclusion. Most studies demonstrated the positive effects of SMS text messaging on dimensions of engagement such as medication adherence, clinic attendance, and therapeutic alliance. Studies examining the feasibility of SMS text messaging interventions found that they are safe, easy to use, and positively received. Conclusions: Overall, SMS text messaging is a low-cost, practical method of improving engagement in the treatment of psychosis, although efficacy may vary by symptomology and personal characteristics. Cost-effectiveness and safety considerations were not adequately examined in the studies included. Future studies should consider personalizing SMS text messaging interventions and include cost and safety analyses to appraise readiness for implementation. Trial Registration:

  • The Guess What mobile system. Source: Pikrepo; Copyright: Pikrepo; URL: https://www.pikrepo.com/fcmxb/kids-like-mobile-games; License: Licensed by the authors.

    The Performance of Emotion Classifiers for Children With Parent-Reported Autism: Quantitative Feasibility Study

    Abstract:

    Background: Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a developmental disorder characterized by deficits in social communication and interaction, and restricted and repetitive behaviors and interests. The incidence of ASD has increased in recent years; it is now estimated that approximately 1 in 40 children in the United States are affected. Due in part to increasing prevalence, access to treatment has become constrained. Hope lies in mobile solutions that provide therapy through artificial intelligence (AI) approaches, including facial and emotion detection AI models developed by mainstream cloud providers, available directly to consumers. However, these solutions may not be sufficiently trained for use in pediatric populations. Objective: Emotion classifiers available off-the-shelf to the general public through Microsoft, Amazon, Google, and Sighthound are well-suited to the pediatric population, and could be used for developing mobile therapies targeting aspects of social communication and interaction, perhaps accelerating innovation in this space. This study aimed to test these classifiers directly with image data from children with parent-reported ASD recruited through crowdsourcing. Methods: We used a mobile game called Guess What? that challenges a child to act out a series of prompts displayed on the screen of the smartphone held on the forehead of his or her care provider. The game is intended to be a fun and engaging way for the child and parent to interact socially, for example, the parent attempting to guess what emotion the child is acting out (eg, surprised, scared, or disgusted). During a 90-second game session, as many as 50 prompts are shown while the child acts, and the video records the actions and expressions of the child. Due in part to the fun nature of the game, it is a viable way to remotely engage pediatric populations, including the autism population through crowdsourcing. We recruited 21 children with ASD to play the game and gathered 2602 emotive frames following their game sessions. These data were used to evaluate the accuracy and performance of four state-of-the-art facial emotion classifiers to develop an understanding of the feasibility of these platforms for pediatric research. Results: All classifiers performed poorly for every evaluated emotion except happy. None of the classifiers correctly labeled over 60.18% (1566/2602) of the evaluated frames. Moreover, none of the classifiers correctly identified more than 11% (6/51) of the angry frames and 14% (10/69) of the disgust frames. Conclusions: The findings suggest that commercial emotion classifiers may be insufficiently trained for use in digital approaches to autism treatment and treatment tracking. Secure, privacy-preserving methods to increase labeled training data are needed to boost the models’ performance before they can be used in AI-enabled approaches to social therapy of the kind that is common in autism treatments.

  • Source: freepik; Copyright: freepik; URL: https://www.freepik.com/free-photo/doctors-masks-using-tablet_1845924.htm#page=1&query=Doctor%20using%20tablet&position=2; License: Licensed by JMIR.

    Digital Mental Health and COVID-19: Using Technology Today to Accelerate the Curve on Access and Quality Tomorrow

    Abstract:

    As interest in and use of telehealth during the COVID-19 global pandemic increase, the potential of digital health to increase access and quality of mental health is becoming clear. Although the world today must “flatten the curve” of spread of the virus, we argue that now is the time to “accelerate and bend the curve” on digital health. Increased investments in digital health today will yield unprecedented access to high-quality mental health care. Focusing on personal experiences and projects from our diverse authorship team, we share selected examples of digital health innovations while acknowledging that no single piece can discuss all the impressive global efforts past and present. Exploring the success of telehealth during the present crisis and how technologies like apps can soon play a larger role, we discuss the need for workforce training, high-quality evidence, and digital equity among other factors critical for bending the curve further.

  • Untitled. Source: freepik; Copyright: freepik; URL: https://www.freepik.com/free-photo/elder-couple-playing-video-games-together_4763062.htm#page=1&query=elderly%20couple%20playing&position=11; License: Licensed by JMIR.

    Reflective and Reflexive Stress Responses of Older Adults to Three Gaming Experiences In Relation to Their Cognitive Abilities: Mixed Methods Crossover Study

    Abstract:

    Background: The gamification of digital health provisions for older adults (eg, for rehabilitation) is a growing trend; however, many older adults are not familiar with digital games. This lack of experience could cause stress and thus impede participants’ motivations to adopt these technologies. Objective: This crossover longitudinal multifactorial study aimed to examine the interactions between game difficulty, appraisal, cognitive ability, and physiological and cognitive responses that indicate game stress using the Affective Game Planning for Health Applications framework. Methods: A total of 18 volunteers (mean age 71 years, SD 4.5; 12 women) completed a three-session study to evaluate different genres of games in increasing order of difficulty (S1-BrainGame, S2-CarRace, and S3-Exergame). Each session included an identical sequence of activities (t1-Baseline, t2-Picture encode, t3-Play, t4-Stroop test, t5-Play, and t6-Picture recall), a repeated sampling of salivary cortisol, and time-tagged ambulatory data from a wrist-worn device. Generalized estimating equations were used to investigate the effect of session×activity or session×activity×cognitive ability on physiology and cognitive performance. Scores derived from the Montreal Cognitive Assessment (MoCA) test were used to define cognitive ability (MoCA-high: MoCA>27, n=11/18). Kruskal-Wallis tests were used to test session or session×group effects on the scores of the postgame appraisal questionnaire. Results: Session×activity effects were significant on all ambulatory measures (χ210>20; P<.001) other than cortisol (P=.37). Compared with S1 and S2, S3 was associated with approximately 10 bpm higher heart rate (P<.001) and approximately 5 muS higher electrodermal activity (P<.001), which were both independent of the movement caused by the exergame. Compared with S1, we measured a moderate but statistically significant drop in the rate of hits in immediate recall and rate of delayed recall in S3. The low-MoCA group did not differ from the high-MoCA group in general characteristics (age, general self-efficacy, and perceived stress) but was more likely to agree with statements such as digital games are too hard to learn. In addition, the low-MoCA group was more likely to dislike the gaming experience and find it useless, uninteresting, and visually more intense (χ21>4; P<.04). Group differences in ambulatory signals did not reach statistical significance; however, the rate of cortisol decline with respect to the baseline was significantly larger in the low-MoCA group. Conclusions: Our results show that the experience of playing digital games was not stressful for our participants. Comparatively, the neurophysiological effects of exergame were more pronounced in the low-MoCA group, suggesting greater potential of this genre of games for cognitive and physical stimulation by gamified interventions; however, the need for enjoyment of this type of challenging game must be addressed.

  • Source: Niki Smit / Placeit; Copyright: Niki Smit / Placeit; URL: http://mental.jmir.org/2020/3/e16066/; License: Licensed by the authors.

    Efficacy of a Virtual Reality Biofeedback Game (DEEP) to Reduce Anxiety and Disruptive Classroom Behavior: Single-Case Study

    Abstract:

    : Many adolescents in special education are affected by anxiety in addition to their behavioral problems. Anxiety leads to substantial long-term problems and may underlie disruptive behaviors in the classroom as a result of the individual’s inability to tolerate anxiety-provoking situations. Thus, interventions in special needs schools that help adolescents cope with anxiety and, in turn, diminish disruptive classroom behaviors are needed. : This study aimed to evaluate the effect of a virtual reality biofeedback game, DEEP, on daily levels of state-anxiety and disruptive classroom behavior in a clinical sample. In addition, the study also aimed to examine the duration of the calm or relaxed state after playing DEEP. : A total of 8 adolescents attending a special secondary school for students with behavioral and psychiatric problems participated in a single-case experimental ABAB study. Over a 4-week period, participants completed 6 DEEP sessions. In addition, momentary assessments (ie, 3 times a day) of self-reported state-anxiety and teacher-reported classroom behavior were collected throughout all A and B phases. : From analyzing the individual profiles, it was found that 6 participants showed reductions in anxiety, and 5 participants showed reductions in disruptive classroom behaviors after the introduction of DEEP. On a group level, results showed a small but significant reduction of anxiety (d=–0.29) and a small, nonsignificant reduction of disruptive classroom behavior (d=−0.16) on days when participants played DEEP. Moreover, it was found that the calm or relaxed state of participants after playing DEEP lasted for about 2 hours on average. : This study demonstrates the potential of the game, DEEP, as an intervention for anxiety and disruptive classroom behavior in a special school setting. Future research is needed to fully optimize and personalize DEEP as an intervention for the heterogeneous special school population.

  • Source: iStock by Getty Images; Copyright: torwai; URL: https://www.istockphoto.com/ca/photo/asian-women-are-using-the-smart-phone-on-the-bed-before-she-sleeping-at-night-mobile-gm820848092-132694121?clarity=false; License: Licensed by the authors.

    The Mediating Role of Visual Stimuli From Media Use at Bedtime on Psychological Distress and Fatigue in College Students: Cross-Sectional Study

    Abstract:

    Background: Empirical research has linked psychological distress with fatigue. However, few studies have analyzed the factors (eg, stimuli from bedtime media use) that affect the relationship between psychological distress and fatigue. Objective: The aim of this study was to examine whether visual stimuli from bedtime media use mediate the relationship between psychological distress and fatigue among college students. Methods: The sample included 394 participants (92 males, 302 females) with a mean age of 19.98 years (SD 1.43 years), all of whom were Chinese college students at an occupational university in Sichuan Province, China. Data were collected using a paper-based questionnaire that addressed psychological distress, stimuli from bedtime media use, and fatigue. Mediation analysis was conducted using the PROCESS macro version 2.16.2 for SPSS 22, which provided the 95% CIs. Results: Both psychological distress (r=.43, P<.001) and visual stimuli from bedtime media use (r=.16, P<.001) were positively related to fatigue. The association between auditory stimuli from bedtime media use and fatigue was not significant (r=.09, P=.08). The relationship between psychological distress and fatigue was partially mediated by visual stimuli from bedtime media use (beta=.01, SE 0.01, 95% CI 0.0023-0.0253). Conclusions: The findings imply that psychological distress has an indirect effect on fatigue via visual stimuli from bedtime media use. In contrast, auditory stimuli from bedtime media use did not have the same effect. We suggest that college students should reduce bedtime media use, and this could be achieved as part of an overall strategy to improve health. Mobile health apps could be an option to improving young students’ health in daily life.

  • Source: Pexels; Copyright: Giftpundits; URL: https://www.pexels.com/photo/person-holding-smartphone-white-sitting-1310532/; License: Licensed by JMIR.

    Digital Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Insomnia for Adolescents With Mental Health Problems: Feasibility Open Trial

    Abstract:

    Background: Insomnia in adolescents is common, persistent, and associated with poor mental health including anxiety and depression. Insomnia in adolescents attending child mental health services is seldom directly treated, and the effects of digital cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) for insomnia (CBTi) on the mental health of adolescents with significant mental health problems are unknown. Objective: This open study aimed to assess the feasibility of adding supported Web-based CBT for insomnia to the usual care of young people aged 14 to 17 years attending specialist child and adolescent mental health services (CAMHS). Methods: A total of 39 adolescents with insomnia aged 14 to 17 years attending specialist CAMHS were assessed and offered digital CBTi. The digital intervention was Sleepio, an evidence-based, self-directed, fully automated CBTi that has proven effective in multiple randomized controlled trials with adults. Self-report assessments of sleep (Sleep Condition Indicator [SCI], Insomnia Severity Scale, and Web- or app-based sleep diaries), anxiety (Revised Child Anxiety and Depression Scale [RCADS]), and depression (Mood and Feelings Questionnaire [MFQ]) were completed at baseline and post intervention. Postuse interviews assessed satisfaction with digital CBTi. Results: Average baseline sleep efficiency was very poor (53%), with participants spending an average of 9.6 hours in bed but only 5.1 hours asleep. All participants scored less than 17 on the SCI, with 92% (36/39) participants scoring 15 or greater on the Insomnia Severity Scale, suggesting clinical insomnia. Of the 39 participants, 36 (92%) scored 27 or greater on the MFQ for major depression and 20 (51%) had clinically elevated symptoms of anxiety. The majority of participants (38/49, 78%) were not having any treatment for their insomnia, with the remaining 25% (12/49) receiving medication. Sleepio was acceptable, with 77% (30/39) of the participants activating their account and 54% (21/39) completing the program. Satisfaction was high, with 84% (16/19) of the participants finding Sleepio helpful, 95% (18/19) indicating that they would recommend it to a friend, and 37% (7/19) expressing a definite preference for a digital intervention. Statistically significant pre-post improvements were found in weekly diaries of sleep efficiency (P=.005) and sleep quality (P=.001) and on measures of sleep (SCI: P=.001 and Insomnia Severity Index: P=.001), low mood (MFQ: P=.03), and anxiety (RCADS: P=.005). Conclusions: Our study has a number of methodological limitations, particularly the small sample size, absence of a comparison group and no follow-up assessment. Nonetheless, our findings are encouraging and suggest that digital CBTi for young people with mental health problems might offer an acceptable and an effective way to improve both sleep and mental health.

  • Source: Image created by the Authors; Copyright: The Authors; URL: http://mental.jmir.org/2020/3/e14698/; License: Creative Commons Attribution (CC-BY).

    Stakeholder Perceptions of Internet-Delivered Cognitive Behavior Therapy as a Treatment Option for Alcohol Misuse: Qualitative Analysis

    Abstract:

    Background: Internet-delivered cognitive behavior therapy (ICBT) has been found to be effective for treating alcohol misuse in research trials, but it is not available as part of routine care in Canada. Recent recommendations in the literature highlight the importance of integrating perspectives from both patient and health care stakeholders when ICBT is being implemented in routine practice settings. Objective: This study aimed to gain an understanding of how ICBT is perceived as a treatment option for alcohol misuse by interviewing diverse stakeholders. Specifically, the objectives were to (1) learn about the perceived advantages and disadvantages of ICBT for alcohol misuse and (2) elicit recommendations to inform implementation efforts in routine practice. Methods: A total of 30 participants representing six stakeholder groups (ie, patients, family members, academic experts, frontline managers, service providers, and health care decision makers) participated in semistructured interviews. To be included in the study, stakeholders had to reside in Saskatchewan, Canada, and have personal or professional experience with alcohol misuse. Interviews were transcribed verbatim, anonymized, and analyzed using thematic analysis. Results: Stakeholders identified numerous advantages of ICBT for alcohol misuse (eg, accessibility, convenience, privacy, relevance to technology-based culture, and fit with stepped care) and several disadvantages (eg, lack of internet access and technological literacy, isolation, less accountability, and unfamiliarity with ICBT). Stakeholders also provided valuable insight into factors to consider when implementing ICBT for alcohol misuse in routine practice. In terms of intervention design, stakeholders recommended a 6- to 8-week guided program that uses Web-based advertising, point-of-sale marketing, and large-scale captive audiences to recruit participants. With regard to treatment content, stakeholders recommended that the program focus on harm reduction rather than abstinence; be evidence based; appeal to the diverse residents of Saskatchewan; and use language that is simple, encouraging, and nonjudgmental. Finally, in terms of population characteristics, stakeholders felt that several features of the alcohol misuse population, such as psychiatric comorbidity, readiness for change, and stigma, should be considered when developing an ICBT program for alcohol misuse. Conclusions: Stakeholders’ insights will help maximize the acceptability, appropriateness, and adoption of ICBT for alcohol misuse and in turn contribute to implementation success. The methodology and findings from this study could be of benefit to others who are seeking to implement ICBT in routine practice.

  • Source: Image created by the Authors; Copyright: Center for Technology and Behavioral Health; URL: http://mental.jmir.org/2020/2/e16751/; License: Licensed by JMIR.

    Workshop on the Development and Evaluation of Digital Therapeutics for Health Behavior Change: Science, Methods, and Projects

    Abstract:

    The health care field has integrated advances into digital technology at an accelerating pace to improve health behavior, health care delivery, and cost-effectiveness of care. The realm of behavioral science has embraced this evolution of digital health, allowing for an exciting roadmap for advancing care by addressing the many challenges to the field via technological innovations. Digital therapeutics offer the potential to extend the reach of effective interventions at reduced cost and patient burden and to increase the potency of existing interventions. Intervention models have included the use of digital tools as supplements to standard care models, as tools that can replace a portion of treatment as usual, or as stand-alone tools accessed outside of care settings or direct to the consumer. To advance the potential public health impact of this promising line of research, multiple areas warrant further development and investigation. The Center for Technology and Behavioral Health (CTBH), a P30 Center of Excellence supported by the National Institute on Drug Abuse at the National Institutes of Health, is an interdisciplinary research center at Dartmouth College focused on the goal of harnessing existing and emerging technologies to effectively develop and deliver evidence-based interventions for substance use and co-occurring disorders. The CTBH launched a series of workshops to encourage and expand multidisciplinary collaborations among Dartmouth scientists and international CTBH affiliates engaged in research related to digital technology and behavioral health (eg, addiction science, behavioral health intervention, technology development, computer science and engineering, digital security, health economics, and implementation science). This paper summarizes a workshop conducted on the Development and Evaluation of Digital Therapeutics for Behavior Change, which addressed (1) principles of behavior change, (2) methods of identifying and testing the underlying mechanisms of behavior change, (3) conceptual frameworks for optimizing applications for mental health and addictive behavior, and (4) the diversity of experimental methods and designs that are essential to the successful development and testing of digital therapeutics. Examples were presented of ongoing CTBH projects focused on identifying and improving the measurement of health behavior change mechanisms and the development and evaluation of digital therapeutics. In summary, the workshop showcased the myriad research targets that will be instrumental in promoting and accelerating progress in the field of digital health and health behavior change and illustrated how the CTBH provides a model of multidisciplinary leadership and collaboration that can facilitate innovative, science-based efforts to address the health behavior challenges afflicting our communities.

  • Source: Unsplash; Copyright: Christian Erfurt; URL: https://unsplash.com/photos/sxQz2VfoFBE; License: Licensed by JMIR.

    Assessment of Microstressors in Adults: Questionnaire Development and Ecological Validation of the Mainz Inventory of Microstressors

    Abstract:

    Background: Many existing scales for microstressor assessment do not differentiate between objective (ie, observable) stressor events and stressful cognitions or concerns. They often mix items assessing objective stressor events with items measuring other aspects of stress, such as perceived stressor severity, the evoked stress reaction, or further consequences on health, which may result in spurious associations in studies that include other questionnaires that measure such constructs. Most scales were developed several decades ago; therefore, modern life stressors may not be represented. Ecological momentary assessment (EMA) allows for sampling of current behaviors and experiences in real time and in the natural habitat, thereby maximizing the generalization of the findings to real-life situations (ie, ecological validity) and minimizing recall bias. However, it has not been used for the validation of microstressor questionnaires so far. Objective: The aim is to develop a questionnaire that (1) allows for retrospective assessment of microstressors over one week, (2) focuses on objective (ie, observable) microstressors, (3) includes stressors of modern life, and (4) separates stressor occurrence from perceived stressor severity. Methods: Cross-sectional (N=108) and longitudinal studies (N=10 and N=70) were conducted to evaluate the Mainz Inventory of Microstressors (MIMIS). In the longitudinal studies, EMA was used to compare stressor data, which was collected five times per day for 7 or 30 days with retrospective reports (end-of-day, end-of-week). Pearson correlations and multilevel modeling were used in the analyses. Results: High correlations were found between end-of-week, end-of-day, and EMA data for microstressor occurrence (counts) (r≥.69 for comparisons per week, r≥.83 for cumulated data) and for mean perceived microstressor severity (r≥.74 for comparisons per week, r≥.85 for cumulated data). The end-of-week questionnaire predicted the EMA assessments sufficiently (counts: beta=.03, 95% CI .02-.03, P<.001; severity: beta=.73, 95% CI .59-.88, P<.001) and the association did not change significantly over four subsequent weeks. Conclusions: Our results provide evidence for the ecological validity of the MIMIS questionnaire.

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