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:

  • 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.

  • Source: Pexels; Copyright: FOX; URL: https://www.pexels.com/photo/black-turned-on-xiaomi-smartphone-226664/; License: Public Domain (CC0).

    Use of New Technologies in the Prevention of Suicide in Europe: An Exploratory Study

    Abstract:

    Background: New technologies are an integral component of today’s society and can complement existing suicide prevention programs. Here, we analyzed the use of new technologies in the prevention of suicide in 8 different European countries. Objective: The aim of this paper was to assess the opinions of professionals in incorporating such resources into the design of a suicide prevention program for the region of Zamora in Spain. This investigation, encompassed within the European project entitled European Regions Enforcing Actions against Suicide (EUREGENAS), includes 11 regions from 8 different countries and attempts to advance the field of suicide prevention in Europe. Methods: Using a specifically designed questionnaire, we assessed the opinions of 3 different groups of stakeholders regarding the use, frequency of use, facilitators, content, and format of new technologies for the prevention of suicide. The stakeholders were comprised of policy and public management professionals, professionals working in the area of mental health, and professionals related to the social area and non-governmental organizations (NGOs). A total of 416 participants were recruited in 11 regions from 8 different European countries. Results: The utility of the new technologies was valued positively in all 8 countries, despite these resources being seldom used in those countries. In all the countries, the factors that contributed most to facilitating the use of new technologies were accessibility and free of charge. Regarding the format of new technologies, the most widely preferred formats for use as a tool for the prevention of suicide were websites and email. The availability of information about signs of alarm and risk factors was the most relevant content for the prevention of suicide through the use of new technologies. The presence of a reference mental health professional (MHP) was also considered to be a key aspect. The countries differed in the evaluations given to the different formats suggesting that the cultural characteristics of the country should be taken into account. Conclusions: New technologies are much appreciated resources; however they are not often underused in the field of suicide prevention. The results of this exploratory study show that new technologies are indeed useful resources and should be incorporated into suicide prevention programs.

  • Living the Example logo. Source: Mentor Foundation USA; Copyright: Mentor Foundation USA; URL: https://mentorfoundationusa.org; License: Creative Commons Attribution (CC-BY).

    The Living the Example Social Media Substance Use Prevention Program: A Pilot Evaluation

    Abstract:

    Background: Adolescent substance use rates in rural areas of the United States, such as upstate New York, have risen substantially in recent years, calling for new intervention approaches in response to this trend. The Mentor Foundation USA conducts the Living the Example (LTE) campaign to engage youth in prevention using an experiential approach. As part of LTE, youth create their own prevention messages following a training curriculum in techniques for effective messaging and then share them via social media. This paper reports on a pilot evaluation of the LTE program. Objective: To conduct a pilot test of LTE in two rural high schools in upstate New York. We hypothesized that positive antidrug brand representations could be promoted using social media strategies to complement the Shattering the Myths (STM) in-person, event-based approach (hypothesis 1, H1), and that youth would respond positively and engage with prevention messages disseminated by their peers. We also hypothesized that exposure to the social media prevention messages would be associated with more positive substance use avoidance attitudes and beliefs, reductions in future use intentions, and decreased substance use at posttest (hypothesis 2, H2). Methods: We adapted a previously published curriculum created by the authors that focuses on branding, messaging, and social media for prevention. The curriculum consisted of five, one-hour sessions. It was delivered to participating youth in five sequential weeks after school at the two high schools in late October and early November 2016. We designed a pre- and posttest pilot implementation study to evaluate the effects of LTE on student uptake of the intervention and short-term substance use and related outcomes. Working at two high schools in upstate New York, we conducted a pilot feasibility evaluation of LTE with 9th-grade students (ie, freshmen) at these high schools. We administered a 125-item questionnaire online to capture data on media use; attitudes toward social media; next 30-day personal drug use intentions; personal reasons to use drugs; reasons participants believe their peers would use drugs; self-reported exposure to the LTE program; and receptivity to the LTE program, among those reporting exposure. We constructed multivariable logistic regression models to analyze the relationship between program receptivity and outcomes. First, in a cross-sectional logistic regression model, we regressed self-reported LTE message receipt on drug use intent and actions related to LTE messaging. Then, for analysis of participants with matched pre- and posttest responses, we used multilevel generalized estimating equation (GEE) techniques to model changes in behavior from baseline to follow-up. Results: Youth reported increased intentions to use marijuana (odds ratio [OR] 2.134, P=.02) between pre- and posttest. However, youth who reported exposure and receptivity to LTE reported a significant decrease in intentions (OR 0.239, P=.008). We observed a similar pattern for sedatives/sleeping pills—an increase in intentions overall (OR 1.886, P=.07), but a decrease among youth who reported exposure and receptivity to LTE (OR 0.210, P=.02). We saw the same pattern for use of any drug—an increase in reported intentions overall (OR 2.141, P=.02), but a decrease among youth who reported exposure and receptivity to LTE (OR 0.111, P=.004). Conclusions: We observed some evidence of significant LTE program effects. Social media may be an effective strategy for peer-to-peer substance use prevention in the future. These findings point both to the potential of LTE and the social media diffusion model and to the need for more research on a larger scale with an expanded youth population in the future.

  • 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.

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    Open Peer Review Period: Jul 20, 2017 - Sep 14, 2017

    Background: The evidence for the effectiveness of web-based therapies comes mainly from non-clinical populations with a few studies in primary care. There is little evidence from patients referred to...

    Background: The evidence for the effectiveness of web-based therapies comes mainly from non-clinical populations with a few studies in primary care. There is little evidence from patients referred to secondary mental health care with depression. A problem with web-based therapies is that a high proportion of people fail to complete the courses. One way to address this is to create a new health service role – an e-coach – to guide people through the therapy which has been shown to increase adherence. Objective: The objective was to test in people referred to secondary care with depression if a web-based therapy (The Journal www.depression.org.nz) supported by an e-coach plus usual care would be more effective in reducing depression compared with usual care plus an information leaflet about on-line resources after twelve weeks. Methods: We conducted a randomized controlled trial with two parallel arms and a process evaluation. The e-coach had a background in occupational therapy. Participants were recruited face to face. Results: We recruited 63 people into the trial (intervention 35 control 28). There were no statistically significant differences in the change in PHQ-9 scores at 12 weeks comparing The Journal with usual care (mean change in PHQ-9 score 9.4 in the intervention group and 7.1 in the control group t-test 1.05 p=0.3; mean difference 2.3, 95% confidence interval -2.1 to 6.7). People who were offered The Journal attended on average about one less out-patient appointment compared with usual care although this difference was not statistically significant (intervention mean number of visits 2.8 (SD 5.5) compared with 4.1 (SD 6.7) in the control group t=- 0.80 p=0.43; mean difference 1.3 95% confidence interval -4.5 to 2.0). The process evaluation found that the mean number of lessons completed in the intervention group was 2.5 SD 1.9 (with a range of 0 to 6) and the number of contacts with the e-coach was a mean of 8.1 SD 4.4 (range 0 to 17). The qualitative interviews highlighted the problem of engaging clinicians in the research and their resistance to recruitment; technical difficulties with The Journal which prevented people logging in easily; difficulty accessing The Journal as it was not available at the time on smartphones or tablets; participants finding lesson three difficult; and participants saying they were too busy to complete the sessions. Conclusions: The study demonstrated that is feasible to use an e-coach in this setting, that people found it helpful and that it did not conflict with other care that participants were receiving. In the future trials need to engage clinicians at an early stage to articulate where web-based therapies fit into existing clinical pathways; web-based therapies should be available on mobile devices; and logging in should be easy. The role of the e-coach should be explored in larger trials. Clinical Trial: Australian and New Zealand Clinical Trials Registry ACTRN: ACTRN12613000015741

  • Partners in Parenting: A multi-level web-based approach to support parents in prevention and early intervention for adolescent depression and anxiety

    Date Submitted: Jul 17, 2017

    Open Peer Review Period: Jul 18, 2017 - Sep 12, 2017

    Depression and anxiety disorders in young people are a global health concern. Various risk and protective factors for these disorders are potentially modifiable by parents, underscoring the important...

    Depression and anxiety disorders in young people are a global health concern. Various risk and protective factors for these disorders are potentially modifiable by parents, underscoring the important role parents play in reducing the risk and impact of these disorders in their adolescent children. However, cost-effective, evidence-based interventions for parents that can be widely disseminated are lacking. In this paper, we propose a multi-level public health approach involving a web-based parenting intervention, Partners in Parenting. We describe the components of the web-based intervention and how each component was developed. Development of the intervention was guided by principles of the Persuasive Systems Design model, to maximize parental engagement and adherence in the program. A co-design approach was used through consultations with parents and adolescents about the content and presentation of the intervention. The Partners in Parenting intervention can be used at varying levels of intensity to tailor to the different needs of parents across the population. Challenges and opportunities for the use of the intervention are discussed. The Partners in Parenting web-based intervention was developed to address the dearth of evidence-based resources to support parents in their important role in their adolescents’ mental health. The proposed public health approach utilizes this intervention at varying levels of intensity based on parents’ needs. Evaluation of each separate level of the model is ongoing. Further evaluation of the whole approach is required to assess the utility of the intervention as a public health approach, as well as its broader effects on adolescent functioning and socioeconomic outcomes.

  • ‘Wish you were here’: Examining assumptions about missing cases from psychotherapeutic trials

    Date Submitted: Jul 6, 2017

    Open Peer Review Period: Jul 12, 2017 - Sep 6, 2017

    Background: Missing cases are common in clinical psychotherapeutic trials, and pose a challenge to the accuracy of measuring clinical outcomes [1]. However, little is known about the characteristics o...

    Background: Missing cases are common in clinical psychotherapeutic trials, and pose a challenge to the accuracy of measuring clinical outcomes [1]. However, little is known about the characteristics of psychotherapy participants with missing values, their likely clinical outcomes, or suitability of different statistical assumptions that can characterise missing cases. Objective: Using a large sample, undergoing psychotherapy for depressive symptoms (n=820), this study aimed to explore the characteristics of missing cases (n=138), their likely treatment outcomes, and compare between statistical methods for replacing missing values. Methods: Initially, common participant and treatment features were tested through binary logistic regression, identifying variables that predict missing cases. Secondly, the same variables were screened for their ability to increase, or impede the rate of symptom remission. Third, using recontacted cases at three-month follow-up, to proximally measure treatment outcomes, simulated replacement scores and observed clinical outcomes were compared. Results: Missing cases were dominantly predicted by lower treatment adherence and increased symptoms at pre-treatment, and report symptom that are 30% higher than average at follow-up. Longitudinal statistical methods (GEE or MIXED models) that adjusted their estimates for missing values by treatment adherence rates and baseline symptoms severity (under the MAR assumption), predicted follow-up missing cases outcomes minimal measurement bias (<8%). Conclusions: Missing cases demonstrated characteristics, which can jointly be associated with likelihood of becoming missing and lesser clinical improvement. Under such circumstances, treatment effects can become concealed. Statistical methods that ignore these characteristics can overlook an important clinical phenomenon and generate inaccurate treatment outcome replacement estimates (-32% to 70% off the mark).

  • French validation of the Work Addiction Risk Test questionnaire

    Date Submitted: Jun 30, 2017

    Open Peer Review Period: Jul 10, 2017 - Sep 4, 2017

    Background: Work addiction is a significant public health problem with a growing prevalence. The Work Addiction Risk Test (WART) is the gold standard questionnaire to detect “Workaholism”. Objecti...

    Background: Work addiction is a significant public health problem with a growing prevalence. The Work Addiction Risk Test (WART) is the gold standard questionnaire to detect “Workaholism”. Objective: The main objective was to validate the French version of the WART. Methods: Questionnaires were proposed to voluntary French workers using the Wittyfit software. There were no exclusions criteria. The questionnaire was administered anonymously for initial validity testing and readministered one week later for test-retest reliability. We also assessed the workers’ socio-demographic characteristics, as well as other measurements, for external validity such as stress, well-being, and co-addictions for tobacco, alcohol and cannabis. Several psychometric properties of the French-WART were explored: acceptability, reliability (internal consistency – Cronbach’s alpha coefficient, and reproducibility – Lin concordance coefficient), construct validity (correlation coefficients and principal component analysis) and external validity (correlation coefficients). Results: Among the 1580 workers using WittyFit, 187 (11.8%) agreed to complete the WART questionnaire. Of those, 128 completed the test-retest survey (68.5%). Acceptability found that all respondents had fully completed the questionnaire, with few floor or ceiling effects. Reliability was very good with a Cronbach’s alpha coefficient at 0.90 (internal consistency) and Lin concordance coefficient at 0.903 (95% CI 0.871–0.935) with a difference on the retest of 0.039±4.92 (95% CI -9.61–9.69) (reproducibility). We identified three main dimensions (construct validity). Relationships between the WART and stress and well-being confirmed its external validity. Conclusions: The French version of the WART is a valid and reliable instrument to assess work addiction, with satisfactory psychometric properties. Used in occupational medicine, this tool would allow the diagnosis of work addiction, and may be easily implemented in current practice. Clinical Trial: Clinicaltrials.gov: NCT02596737; https://www.clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/NCT02596737.

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