JMIR Publications

JMIR Mental Health

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

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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:

  • Mother using technology to help child in distress. Source: Shutterstock; Copyright: Monkey Business Images; URL: https://www.shutterstock.com/image-photo/mother-helping-stressed-teenage-daughter-looking-184855025; License: Licensed by the authors.

    Perspectives of Family Members on Using Technology in Youth Mental Health Care: A Qualitative Study

    Abstract:

    Background: Information and communication technologies (ICTs) are increasingly recognized as having an important role in the delivery of mental health services for youth. Recent studies have evaluated young people’s access and use of technology, as well as their perspectives on using technology to receive mental health information, services, and support; however, limited attention has been given to the perspectives of family members in this regard. Objective: The aim of this study was to explore the perspectives of family members on the use of ICTs to deliver mental health services to youth within the context of specialized early intervention for a first-episode psychosis (FEP). Methods: Six focus groups were conducted with family members recruited from an early intervention program for psychosis. Twelve family members participated in the study (target sample was 12-18, and recruitment efforts took place over the duration of 1 year). A 12-item semistructured focus group guide was developed to explore past experiences of technology and recommendations for the use of technology in youth mental health service delivery. A qualitative thematic analysis guided the identification and organization of common themes and patterns identified across the dataset. Results: Findings were organized by the following themes: access and use of technology, potential negative impacts of technology on youth in recovery, potential benefits of using technology to deliver mental health services to youth, and recommendations to use technology for (1) providing quality information in a manner that is accessible to individuals of diverse socioeconomic backgrounds, (2) facilitating communication with health care professionals and services, and (3) increasing access to peer support. Conclusions: To our knowledge, this is among the first (or the first) to explore the perspectives of family members of youth being treated for FEP on the use of technology for mental health care. Our results highlight the importance of considering diverse experiences and attitudes toward the role of technology in youth mental health, digital literacy skills, phases of recovery, and sociodemographic factors when engaging family members in technology-enabled youth mental health care research and practice. Innovative methods to recruit and elicit the perspectives of family members on this topic are warranted. It is also important to consider educational strategies to inform and empower family members on the role, benefits, and use of ICTs in relation to mental health care for FEP.

  • Health App Use. Source: iStock by Getty Images; Copyright: kizilkayaphotos; URL: http://www.istockphoto.com/photo/hand-touching-healthcare-app-on-screen-gm539219522-96086095; License: Licensed by the authors.

    Health App Use Among Individuals With Symptoms of Depression and Anxiety: A Survey Study With Thematic Coding

    Abstract:

    Background: Researchers have largely turned to commercial app stores, randomized trials, and systematic reviews to make sense of the mHealth landscape. Few studies have approached understanding by collecting information from target end users. The end user perspective is critical as end user interest in and use of mHealth technologies will ultimately drive the efficacy of these tools. Objective: The purpose of this study was to obtain information from end users of mHealth technologies to better understand the physical and mental health apps people use and for what purposes. Methods: People with depressive or anxious symptoms (N=176) seeking entry into a trial of mental health and well-being apps for Android devices completed online questionnaires assessing depression and anxiety (Patient Health Questionnaire-9 and Generalized Anxiety Disorder-7), past and current mental health treatment-seeking behavior, overall mobile device use, and use of mobile health apps. Participants reported the physical health and mental health apps on their devices and their reasons for using them. Data were extracted from the participant self-reports and apps and app purposes were coded in order to categorize them. Results: Participants were largely white, middle-aged females from the Midwest region of the United States recruited via a health care organization and Web-based advertising (135 female, 41 male, mean age 38.64 years, age range 19-75 years.) Over three-quarters (137/176, 77.8%) of participants indicated having a health app on their device. The top 3 kinds of apps were exercise, fitness, and pedometers or heart rate monitoring apps (93/176, 52.8%); diet, food, or calorie counting apps (65/177, 36.9%); and mental health/wellness apps (46/177, 26.1%). The mean number of mobile physical and mental health apps on a participant’s phone was 2.15 (SD 3.195). Of 176 participants, 107 (60.8%) specifically reported the top 5 health apps that they used and their purposes. Across the 107 participants, a total of 285 apps were reported, with 139 being unique apps. The majority of these apps were free (129/139, 92.8%). Almost two-thirds of participants (67/107, 62.6%) reported using health apps at least on a daily basis. Conclusions: Among those seeking support for their well-being via physical and mental health apps, people are using a variety of health apps. These people use health apps on a daily basis, especially free apps. The most common reason for using a health app is to track some health-related data; for mental health apps specifically, training or habit building was the most popular reason. Understanding the end user perspective is important because it allows us to build on the foundation of previously established mHealth research and may help guide future work in mHealth. Trial Registration: Clinicaltrials.gov NCT02176226; https://clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/NCT02176226 (Archived by WebCite at http://www.webcitation.org/6rGc1MGyM)

  • Screenshot of a CBT self-help app currently available on Google Play. Copyright: Google; URL: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.excelatlife.depression&hl=en; License: Creative Commons Attribution (CC-BY).

    Supporting Homework Compliance in Cognitive Behavioural Therapy: Essential Features of Mobile Apps

    Abstract:

    Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is one of the most effective psychotherapy modalities used to treat depression and anxiety disorders. Homework is an integral component of CBT, but homework compliance in CBT remains problematic in real-life practice. The popularization of the mobile phone with app capabilities (smartphone) presents a unique opportunity to enhance CBT homework compliance; however, there are no guidelines for designing mobile phone apps created for this purpose. Existing literature suggests 6 essential features of an optimal mobile app for maximizing CBT homework compliance: (1) therapy congruency, (2) fostering learning, (3) guiding therapy, (4) connection building, (5) emphasis on completion, and (6) population specificity. We expect that a well-designed mobile app incorporating these features should result in improved homework compliance and better outcomes for its users.

  • Young woman chatting with Woebot conversational agent (montage). Source: The Authors / Placeit.net; Copyright: JMIR Publications; URL: http://mental.jmir.org/2017/2/e19/; License: Creative Commons Attribution (CC-BY).

    Delivering Cognitive Behavior Therapy to Young Adults With Symptoms of Depression and Anxiety Using a Fully Automated Conversational Agent (Woebot): A...

    Abstract:

    Background: Web-based cognitive-behavioral therapeutic (CBT) apps have demonstrated efficacy but are characterized by poor adherence. Conversational agents may offer a convenient, engaging way of getting support at any time. Objective: The objective of the study was to determine the feasibility, acceptability, and preliminary efficacy of a fully automated conversational agent to deliver a self-help program for college students who self-identify as having symptoms of anxiety and depression. Methods: In an unblinded trial, 70 individuals age 18-28 years were recruited online from a university community social media site and were randomized to receive either 2 weeks (up to 20 sessions) of self-help content derived from CBT principles in a conversational format with a text-based conversational agent (Woebot) (n=34) or were directed to the National Institute of Mental Health ebook, “Depression in College Students,” as an information-only control group (n=36). All participants completed Web-based versions of the 9-item Patient Health Questionnaire (PHQ-9), the 7-item Generalized Anxiety Disorder scale (GAD-7), and the Positive and Negative Affect Scale at baseline and 2-3 weeks later (T2). Results: Participants were on average 22.2 years old (SD 2.33), 67% female (47/70), mostly non-Hispanic (93%, 54/58), and Caucasian (79%, 46/58). Participants in the Woebot group engaged with the conversational agent an average of 12.14 (SD 2.23) times over the study period. No significant differences existed between the groups at baseline, and 83% (58/70) of participants provided data at T2 (17% attrition). Intent-to-treat univariate analysis of covariance revealed a significant group difference on depression such that those in the Woebot group significantly reduced their symptoms of depression over the study period as measured by the PHQ-9 (F=6.47; P=.01) while those in the information control group did not. In an analysis of completers, participants in both groups significantly reduced anxiety as measured by the GAD-7 (F1,54= 9.24; P=.004). Participants’ comments suggest that process factors were more influential on their acceptability of the program than content factors mirroring traditional therapy. Conclusions: Conversational agents appear to be a feasible, engaging, and effective way to deliver CBT.

  • Copyright: Wavebreak Media; License: Licensed by JMIR.

    Computerized Cognitive Behavioral Therapy to Treat Emotional Distress After Stroke: A Feasibility Randomized Controlled Trial

    Abstract:

    Background: Depression and anxiety are common complications following stroke. Symptoms could be treatable with psychological therapy, but there is little research on its efficacy. Objectives: The aim of this study was to investigate (1) the acceptability and feasibility of computerized cognitive behavioral therapy (cCBT) to treat symptoms of depression and anxiety and (2) a trial design for comparing the efficacy of cCBT compared with an active comparator. Methods: Of the total 134 people screened for symptoms of depression and anxiety following stroke, 28 were cluster randomized in blocks with an allocation ratio 2:1 to cCBT (n=19) or an active comparator of computerized cognitive remediation therapy (cCRT, n=9). Qualitative and quantitative feedback was sought on the acceptability and feasibility of both interventions, alongside measuring levels of depression, anxiety, and activities of daily living before, immediately after, and 3 months post treatment. Results: Both cCBT and cCRT groups were rated as near equally useful (mean = 6.4 vs 6.5, d=0.05), while cCBT was somewhat less relevant (mean = 5.5 vs 6.5, d=0.45) but somewhat easier to use (mean = 7.0 vs 6.3, d=0.31). Participants tolerated randomization and dropout rates were comparable with similar trials, with only 3 participants discontinuing due to potential adverse effects; however, dropout was higher from the cCBT arm (7/19, 37% vs 1/9, 11% for cCRT). The trial design required small alterations and highlighted that future-related studies should control for participants receiving antidepressant medication, which significantly differed between groups (P=.05). Descriptive statistics of the proposed outcome measures and qualitative feedback about the cCBT intervention are reported. Conclusions: A pragmatic approach is required to deliver computerized interventions to accommodate individual needs. We report a preliminary investigation to inform the development of a full randomized controlled trial for testing the efficacy of computerized interventions for people with long-term neurological conditions such as stroke and conclude that this is a potentially promising way of improving accessibility of psychological support.

  • Mobile device being used to access the Internet for health care (montage). Source: The Authors / Placeit.net; Copyright: The Authors; URL: https://placeit.net/stages/black-landscape-nexus-7-on-coffee-house-wide; License: Creative Commons Attribution (CC-BY).

    Who is More Likely to Use the Internet for Health Behavior Change? A Cross-Sectional Survey of Internet Use Among Smokers and Nonsmokers Who Are Orthopedic...

    Abstract:

    Background: eHealth presents opportunities to provide population groups with accessible health interventions, although knowledge about Internet access, peoples’ interest in using the Internet for health, and users’ characteristics are required prior to eHealth program development. Objective: This study surveyed hospital patients to examine rates of Internet use, interest in using the Internet for health, and respondent characteristics related to Internet use and interest in using the Internet for health. For patients who smoke, preferences for types of smoking cessation programs for use at home and while in hospital were also examined. Methods: An online cross-sectional survey was used to survey 819 orthopedic trauma patients (response rate: 72.61%, 819/1128) from two public hospitals in New South Wales, Australia. Logistic regressions were used to examine associations between variables. Results: A total of 72.7% (574/790) of respondents had at least weekly Internet access and more than half (56.6%, 357/631) reported interest in using the Internet for health. Odds of at least weekly Internet usage were higher if the individual was born overseas (OR 2.21, 95% CI 1.27-3.82, P=.005), had a tertiary education (OR 3.75, 95% CI 2.41-5.84, P<.001), or was a nonsmoker (OR 3.75, 95% CI 2.41-5.84, P<.001). Interest in using the Internet for health increased with high school (OR 1.85, 95% CI 1.09-3.15, P=.02) or tertiary education (OR 2.48, 95% CI 1.66-3.70, P<.001), and if household incomes were more than AUS $100,000 (OR 2.5, 95% CI 1.25-4.97, P=.009). Older individuals were less interested in using the Internet for health (OR 0.98, 95% CI 0.97-0.99, P<.001). Conclusions: Online interventions may be a potential tool for health care in this hospitalized population. Trial Registration: Australian New Zealand Clinical Trials Registry (ANZCTR): ACTRN12614001147673; https://www.anzctr.org.au/Trial/Registration/TrialReview.aspx?id=366829&isReview=true (Archived by WebCite at http://www.webcitation.org/6qg26u3En)

  • Source: https://www.wslhd.health.nsw.gov.au/Aboriginal-Health-Unit; License: Fair use/fair dealings.

    Diversity in eMental Health Practice: An Exploratory Qualitative Study of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Service Providers

    Abstract:

    Background: In Australia, mental health services are undergoing major systemic reform with eMental Health (eMH) embedded in proposed service models for all but those with severe mental illness. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander service providers have been targeted as a national priority for training and implementation of eMH into service delivery. Implementation studies on technology uptake in health workforces identify complex and interconnected variables that influence how individual practitioners integrate new technologies into their practice. To date there are only two implementation studies that focus on eMH and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander service providers. They suggest that the implementation of eMH in the context of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander populations may be different from the implementation of eMH with allied health professionals and mainstream health services. Objective: The objective of this study is to investigate how Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander service providers in one regional area of Australia used eMH resources in their practice following an eMH training program and to determine what types of eMH resources they used. Methods: Individual semistructured qualitative interviews were conducted with a purposive sample of 16 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander service providers. Interviews were co-conducted by one indigenous and one non-indigenous interviewer. A sample of transcripts were coded and thematically analyzed by each interviewer and then peer reviewed. Consensus codes were then applied to all transcripts and themes identified. Results: It was found that 9 of the 16 service providers were implementing eMH resources into their routine practice. The findings demonstrate that participants used eMH resources for supporting social inclusion, informing and educating, assessment, case planning and management, referral, responding to crises, and self and family care. They chose a variety of types of eMH resources to use with their clients, both culturally specific and mainstream. While they referred clients to online treatment programs, they used only eMH resources designed for mobile devices in their face-to-face contact with clients. Conclusions: This paper provides Aboriginal and Torres Strait islander service providers and the eMH field with findings that may inform and guide the implementation of eMH resources. It may help policy developers locate this workforce within broader service provision planning for eMH. The findings could, with adaptation, have wider application to other workforces who work with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander clients. The findings highlight the importance of identifying and addressing the particular needs of minority groups for eMH services and resources.

  • Smartphone screenshot MZ. Source: Image created by the authors; Copyright: Athanasios Tsanas; URL: http://mental.jmir.org/2017/2/e15/; License: Creative Commons Attribution (CC-BY).

    Clinical Insight Into Latent Variables of Psychiatric Questionnaires for Mood Symptom Self-Assessment

    Abstract:

    Background: We recently described a new questionnaire to monitor mood called mood zoom (MZ). MZ comprises 6 items assessing mood symptoms on a 7-point Likert scale; we had previously used standard principal component analysis (PCA) to tentatively understand its properties, but the presence of multiple nonzero loadings obstructed the interpretation of its latent variables. Objective: The aim of this study was to rigorously investigate the internal properties and latent variables of MZ using an algorithmic approach which may lead to more interpretable results than PCA. Additionally, we explored three other widely used psychiatric questionnaires to investigate latent variable structure similarities with MZ: (1) Altman self-rating mania scale (ASRM), assessing mania; (2) quick inventory of depressive symptomatology (QIDS) self-report, assessing depression; and (3) generalized anxiety disorder (7-item) (GAD-7), assessing anxiety. Methods: We elicited responses from 131 participants: 48 bipolar disorder (BD), 32 borderline personality disorder (BPD), and 51 healthy controls (HC), collected longitudinally (median [interquartile range, IQR]: 363 [276] days). Participants were requested to complete ASRM, QIDS, and GAD-7 weekly (all 3 questionnaires were completed on the Web) and MZ daily (using a custom-based smartphone app). We applied sparse PCA (SPCA) to determine the latent variables for the four questionnaires, where a small subset of the original items contributes toward each latent variable. Results: We found that MZ had great consistency across the three cohorts studied. Three main principal components were derived using SPCA, which can be tentatively interpreted as (1) anxiety and sadness, (2) positive affect, and (3) irritability. The MZ principal component comprising anxiety and sadness explains most of the variance in BD and BPD, whereas the positive affect of MZ explains most of the variance in HC. The latent variables in ASRM were identical for the patient groups but different for HC; nevertheless, the latent variables shared common items across both the patient group and HC. On the contrary, QIDS had overall very different principal components across groups; sleep was a key element in HC and BD but was absent in BPD. In GAD-7, nervousness was the principal component explaining most of the variance in BD and HC. Conclusions: This study has important implications for understanding self-reported mood. MZ has a consistent, intuitively interpretable latent variable structure and hence may be a good instrument for generic mood assessment. Irritability appears to be the key distinguishing latent variable between BD and BPD and might be useful for differential diagnosis. Anxiety and sadness are closely interlinked, a finding that might inform treatment effects to jointly address these covarying symptoms. Anxiety and nervousness appear to be amongst the cardinal latent variable symptoms in BD and merit close attention in clinical practice.

  • Source: King's Image Library; Copyright: King's College London; URL: http://www.kcl.ac.uk/library/archivespec/celum/index.aspx; License: Licensed by the authors.

    A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of e-Mental Health Interventions to Treat Symptoms of Posttraumatic Stress

    Abstract:

    Background: Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a stress disorder characterized by unwanted intrusive re-experiencing of an acutely distressing, often life-threatening, event, combined with symptoms of hyperarousal, avoidance, as well as negative thoughts and feelings. Evidence-based psychological interventions have been developed to treat these symptoms and reduce distress, the majority of which were designed to be delivered face-to-face with trained therapists. However, new developments in the use of technology to supplement and extend health care have led to the creation of e-Mental Health interventions. Objective: Our aim was to assess the scope and efficacy of e-Mental Health interventions to treat symptoms of PTSD. Methods: The following databases were systematically searched to identify randomized controlled trials of e-Mental Health interventions to treat symptoms of PTSD as measured by standardized and validated scales: the Cochrane Library, MEDLINE, EMBASE, and PsycINFO (in March 2015 and repeated in November 2016). Results: A total of 39 studies were found during the systematic review, and 33 (N=3832) were eligible for meta-analysis. The results of the primary meta-analysis revealed a significant improvement in PTSD symptoms, in favor of the active intervention group (standardized mean difference=-0.35, 95% confidence interval -0.45 to -0.25, P<.001, I2=81%). Several sensitivity and subgroup analyses were performed suggesting that improvements in PTSD symptoms remained in favor of the active intervention group independent of the comparison condition, the type of cognitive behavioral therapy-based intervention, and the level of guidance provided. Conclusions: This review demonstrates an emerging evidence base supporting e-Mental Health to treat symptoms of PTSD.

  • Completing a survey. Source: The Authors; Copyright: John R. Walker; URL: http://mental.jmir.org/2017/2/e13/; License: Creative Commons Attribution (CC-BY).

    Gathering Opinions on Depression Information Needs and Preferences: Samples and Opinions in Clinic Versus Web-Based Surveys

    Abstract:

    Background: There has been limited research on the information needs and preferences of the public concerning treatment for depression. Very little research is available comparing samples and opinions when recruitment for surveys is done over the Web as opposed to a personal invitation to complete a paper survey. Objective: This study aimed to (1) to explore information needs and preferences among members of the public and (2) compare Clinic and Web samples on sample characteristics and survey findings. Methods: Web survey participants were recruited with a notice on three self-help association websites (N=280). Clinic survey participants were recruited by a research assistant in the waiting rooms of a family medicine clinic and a walk-in medical clinic (N=238) and completed a paper version of the survey. Results: The Clinic and Web samples were similar in age (39.0 years, SD 13.9 vs 40.2 years, SD 12.5, respectively), education, and proportion in full time employment. The Clinic sample was more diverse in demographic characteristics and closer to the demographic characteristics of the region (Winnipeg, Canada) with a higher proportion of males (102/238 [42.9%] vs 45/280 [16.1%]) and nonwhites (Aboriginal, Asian, and black) (69/238 [29.0%] vs 39/280 [13.9%]). The Web sample reported a higher level of emotional distress and had more previous psychological (224/280 [80.0%] vs 83/238 [34.9%]) and pharmacological (202/280 [72.1%] vs 57/238 [23.9%]) treatment. In terms of opinions, most respondents in both settings saw information on a wide range of topics around depression treatment as very important including information about treatment choices, effectiveness of treatment, how long it takes treatment to work, how long treatment continues, what happens when treatment stops, advantages and disadvantages of treatments, and potential side effects. Females, respondents with a white background, and those who had received or felt they would have benefited from therapy in the past saw more information topics as very important. Those who had received or thought they would have benefited in the past from medication treatment saw fewer topics as important. Participants in both groups expressed an interest in receiving information through discussion with a counselor or a physician, through written brochures, or through a recommended website. Conclusions: The recruitment strategies were helpful in obtaining opinions from members of the public with different concerns and perspectives, and the results from the two methods were complementary. Persons coping with emotional distress and individuals not specifically seeking help for depression would be interested in information to answer a wide range of important questions about depression treatment. The Clinic sample yielded more cultural diversity that is a closer match to the population. The Web sample was less costly to recruit and included persons who were most interested in receiving information.

  • Copyright: The Authors; License: Image created by the authors.

    A Mixed-Methods Study Using a Nonclinical Sample to Measure Feasibility of Ostrich Community: A Web-Based Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Program for...

    Abstract:

    Background: There are increasing concerns about the health and well-being of individuals facing financial troubles. For instance, in the United Kingdom, the relationship between debt and mental health difficulties is becoming more evident due to the economic downturn and welfare reform. Access to debt counseling services is limited and individuals may be reluctant to access services due to stigma. In addition, most of these services may not be appropriately resourced to address the psychological impact of debt. This study describes outcomes from an Internet-based cognitive behavioral therapy (ICBT) program, Ostrich Community (OC), which was developed to provide support to those struggling with debt and associated psychological distress. Objective: The aim of this feasibility study was to assess the suitability and acceptability of the OC program in a nonclinical sample and examine mental health and well-being outcomes from using the program. Methods: A total of 15 participants (who were not suffering from severe financial difficulty) were assisted in working through the 8-week ICBT program. Participants rated usability and satisfaction with the program, and after completion 7 participants took part in a semistructured interview to provide further feedback. Before the first session and after the final session all participants completed questionnaires to measure well-being and levels of depression, stress, and anxiety and pre- and postscores were compared. Results: Satisfaction was high and themes emerging from the interviews indicate that the program has the potential to promote effective financial behaviors and improve financial and global psychosocial well-being. When postcompletion scores were compared with those taken before the program, significant improvements were identified on psychometric measures of well-being, stress, and anxiety. Conclusions: The OC program is the first ICBT program that targets poor mental health associated with financial difficulty. This feasibility study indicates that OC may be an effective intervention for increasing financial resilience, supporting individuals to become financially independent, and promoting positive financial and global well-being. Further work with individuals suffering from debt and associated emotional difficulties will help to examine clinical effectiveness more closely.

  • Source: Startup Stock Photos; URL: http://startupstockphotos.com/post/123128099291/at-barrel-soho-nyc; License: Public Domain (CC0).

    Public Acceptability of E-Mental Health Treatment Services for Psychological Problems: A Scoping Review

    Abstract:

    Background: Over the past decades, the deficient provision of evidence-based interventions for the prevention and treatment of mental health problems has become a global challenge across health care systems. In view of the ongoing diffusion of new media and mobile technologies into everyday life, Web-delivered electronic mental health (e-mental health) treatment services have been suggested to expand the access to professional help. However, the large-scale dissemination and adoption of innovative e-mental health services is progressing slowly. This discrepancy between potential and actual impact in public health makes it essential to explore public acceptability of e-mental health treatment services across health care systems. Objective: This scoping review aimed to identify and evaluate recent empirical evidence for public acceptability, service preferences, and attitudes toward e-mental health treatments. On the basis of both frameworks for technology adoption and previous research, we defined (1) perceived helpfulness and (2) intentions to use e-mental health treatment services as indicators for public acceptability in the respective general population of reviewed studies. This mapping should reduce heterogeneity and help derive implications for systematic reviews and public health strategies. Methods: We systematically searched electronic databases (MEDLINE/PubMed, PsycINFO, Psyndex, PsycARTICLES, and Cochrane Library, using reference management software for parallel searches) to identify surveys published in English in peer-reviewed journals between January 2010 and December 2015, focusing on public perceptions about e-mental health treatments outside the context of clinical, psychosocial, or diagnostic interventions. Both indicators were obtained from previous review. Exclusion criteria further involved studies targeting specific groups or programs. Results: The simultaneous database search identified 76 nonduplicate records. Four articles from Europe and Australia were included in this scoping review. Sample sizes ranged from 217 to 2411 participants of ages 14-95 years. All included studies used cross-sectional designs and self-developed measures for outcomes related to both defined indicators of public acceptability. Three surveys used observational study designs, whereas one study was conducted as an experiment investigating the impact of brief educational information on attitudes. Taken together, the findings of included surveys suggested that e-mental health treatment services were perceived as less helpful than traditional face-to-face interventions. Additionally, intentions to future use e-mental health treatments were overall smaller in comparison to face-to-face services. Professional support was essential for help-seeking intentions in case of psychological distress. Therapist-assisted e-mental health services were preferred over unguided programs. Unexpectedly, assumed associations between familiarity with Web-based self-help for health purposes or “e-awareness” and intentions to use e-mental health services were weak or inconsistent. Conclusions: Considering the marginal amount and heterogeneity of pilot studies focusing on public acceptability of e-mental health treatments, further research using theory-led approaches and validated measures is required to understand psychological facilitator and barriers for the implementation of innovative services into health care.

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  • A comparison of self-reported telephone interview and online survey responses: findings from the Second Australian Young and Well National Survey

    Date Submitted: Jun 16, 2017

    Open Peer Review Period: Jun 16, 2017 - Aug 11, 2017

    Background: Online self-report surveying has increased in popularity as it can rapidly yield large samples at low cost. Despite this popularity, in the area of youth mental health there is a distinct...

    Background: Online self-report surveying has increased in popularity as it can rapidly yield large samples at low cost. Despite this popularity, in the area of youth mental health there is a distinct lack of research comparing the results of online self-report surveys to the more traditional and widely accepted computer-assisted telephone interview (CATI). Objective: The Second Australian Young and Well National Survey 2014 sought to compare differences in respondent response patterns using matched items on a CATI vs an online self-report survey. Additional objectives were to examine whether responses varied as a result of item sensitivity; that is, the item’s susceptibility to exaggeration on under-reporting, and to assess whether certain subgroups demonstrated this effect to a greater extent. Methods: A sub-sample of young people aged 16 to 25 years (N=101), recruited through the Second Australian Young and Well National Survey 2014, completed the identical items on two occasions, via CATI and online self-report survey. Respondents also rated perceived item sensitivity. Results: When comparing CATI to online self-report survey, a Wilcoxon signed-rank analysis showed that respondents answered 14 of the 42 matched items in a significantly different way, many of which were perceived as highly sensitive in nature (62.5% ‘high sensitivity’ items, 42.9% ‘neutral sensitivity’ items, 0% ‘low sensitivity’ items). The items which were perceived as highly sensitive by respondents and demonstrated variability included: sexting activities, body image concerns, experience of diagnosis and suicidal ideation. For ‘high sensitivity’ items, a regression analysis showed respondents who were male (β = -.19, P = .05) or were not in employment, education or training (NEET: β= -.32, P = .001) were significantly more likely to provide different responses on matched items when responding in the CATI as compared to online self-report survey. The online self-report survey, however, demonstrated some evidence of avidity and attrition bias. Conclusions: Compared to CATI, online self-report surveys are highly cost-effective and had higher rates of self-disclosure on sensitive items; particularly for respondents who identify as male and NEET. A drawback to online surveying methodologies, however, includes the limited control over avidity bias and the greater incidence of attrition bias. These findings have important implications for further development of survey methods in the area of health and wellbeing, especially when considering research topics (in this case mental health, sexting and body image) and groups that are being recruited (young people, males and NEET).

  • User Participation and Engagement with the See Me Smoke-Free mHealth App: Results of a Prospective Feasibility Trial

    Date Submitted: Apr 21, 2017

    Open Peer Review Period: May 31, 2017 - Jul 14, 2017

    Background: The See Me Smoke-Free (SMSF) mobile health (mHealth) application (app) was developed to help women quit smoking by targeting concerns about body weight, body image, and self-efficacy throu...

    Background: The See Me Smoke-Free (SMSF) mobile health (mHealth) application (app) was developed to help women quit smoking by targeting concerns about body weight, body image, and self-efficacy through cognitive behavioral techniques and guided imagery audio files addressing smoking, diet, and physical activity. A feasibility trial found associations between SMSF usage and positive treatment outcomes. This paper reports a detailed exploration of program use among those who downloaded the app, and the relationship between program use and treatment outcomes. Objective: To determine whether: 1) participants were more likely to set quit dates, be current smokers, and report higher levels of smoking at baseline than non-participants; 2) participants opened the app and listened to audio files more frequently than non-participants; and 3) participants with more app usage had a higher likelihood of smoking abstinence at follow-up. Methods: The SMSF feasibility trial was a single arm, within-subjects, prospective cohort study with assessments at baseline, 30- and 90-days post-enrollment. The SMSF app was deployed on the Google Play store for download, and basic profile characteristics were obtained for all app installers. Additional variables were assessed for study participants. Participants were prompted to use the app daily during study participation. Crude differences in baseline characteristics between trial participants and non-participants were evaluated using t-tests (continuous variables) and Fisher’s exact tests (categorical variables). Exact Poisson tests were used to assess group-level differences in mean usage rates over the full study period, using aggregate Google Analytics data on participation and usage. Negative binomial regression models were used to estimate associations of app usage with participant baseline characteristics, after adjustment for putative confounders. Associations between app usage and smoking abstinence were assessed using separate logistic regression models for each outcome measure. Results: Participants (n=151) were more likely than non-participants (n=96) to report female gender (P < 0.02) and smoking in the 30 days prior to enrollment (P < 0.0001). Participants and non-participants opened the app and updated quit dates at the same average rate (Rate ratio (RR) 0.98; 95% CI: 0.92, 1.04; P = 0.43), but participants started audio files (RR 1.07; 95% CI: 1.00, 1.13; P < 0.04) and completed audio files (RR 1.11; 95% CI: 1.03, 1.18; P < 0.003) at significantly higher rates than non-participants. Higher app usage among participants was generally associated with increased smoking cessation, and most effect sizes suggested strong associations, though generally without statistical significance. Conclusions: The current study suggests potential efficacy of the SMSF app, as increased usage was generally associated with higher smoking abstinence. A planned randomized controlled trial will assess the SMSF app’s efficacy as an intervention tool to help women quit smoking. Clinical Trial: ClinicalTrials.gov NCT02972515

  • Low- and No-Cost Strategies to Recruit Women to a Mobile Health Smoking Cessation Trial

    Date Submitted: Jan 19, 2017

    Open Peer Review Period: May 31, 2017 - Jul 14, 2017

    Background: Successful recruitment and retention of adequate numbers of participants to mobile health (mHealth) studies remains a challenge. Given that researchers must decide how to invest limited re...

    Background: Successful recruitment and retention of adequate numbers of participants to mobile health (mHealth) studies remains a challenge. Given that researchers must decide how to invest limited recruitment resources, it is important to identify the most effective recruitment strategies, defined as those that incur low costs relative to participant yield. Objective: The objective of this manuscript is to describe the development and implementation process for the recruitment phase of an mHealth intervention designed to increase smoking cessation among weight-concerned women smokers. These recruitment methods could be applicable across a range of mHealth studies. Methods: Study information was released to the media in multiple phases. First, local city and state media were contacted, followed by national women’s health media, and finally outlets in states with high smoking rates. Stories and mentions resulting from the press releases (earned media) were disseminated via existing department and new study-specific social media accounts. Strategic hashtags were used in Facebook and Twitter posts to connect with broader smoking cessation campaigns. Posts were also made to third-party Facebook smoking cessation communities and Internet classifieds sites. Results: Media coverage was documented across 75 publications and radio/television broadcasts, 35 of which were local, 39 national, and 1 international. Between March 30th and July 31st, 2015, 151 participants were successfully recruited to the study. Conclusions: Leveraging social media, and coordinating with university public affairs offices were effective and low-cost strategies to earn media coverage, and reach potential participants. Clinical Trial: Not Applicable

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