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Smartphone ownership estimates indicate the vast majority of young people are engaging with smartphone devices. The medium offers a promising opportunity for psychologists to connect with young people seeking help to traverse challenges with mental health, behaviour, learning and wellbeing. However, the views of young people using apps alongside face-to-face therapy remain largely unexplored. Given that clients make the single strongest contribution to therapeutic outcomes it is important to consider the perspectives of adolescents in clinical settings. Using semistructured qualitative interviews, the experiences of seven Australian secondary school-aged adolescents (12–18 years) involved in app-integrated therapy were explored. Thematic analysis resulted in the identification of eight key themes: Between-sessions, Introduction, Responsive, Age, Mindfulness-Meditation, Connection, Knowledge, and App features. Recommending apps appears to encourage young people to take ownership of their therapy, affording opportunities for self-reflection and rehearsal of valuable skills. Further research focused on understanding the views of young people utilising apps with therapy is needed to maximise potential therapeutic benefits. Preliminary practice recommendations and future research directions are proposed.
Psychologists play an important role in the provision of mental health support to young people. Some psychologists are incorporating apps into therapy with young people; however, little is understood about why such incorporation is taking place. Ten semi-structured qualitative interviews exploring why psychologists augment therapy by recommending or using apps alongside therapy were undertaken. Findings suggest that psychologists were prompted to update their therapeutic approach in response to client-initiated discussion of apps. Personal use of apps, higher engagement in therapy, increased access to therapeutic strategies between sessions, and a reduction of the stigma associated with externalising therapeutic strategies were also facilitating factors. Implications for practice such as apps currently complementing structured therapy over unstructured talk therapy, and further research are explored.
Improving understanding of and outcomes for early-course psychosis (ECP) is a recognised global mental health priority. We argue digital health technologies can advance care for ECP by better accounting for clinical heterogeneity, offering better predictive models, increasing access to early interventions and enhancing existing treatment options.
Declaration of interest
L.M.T. owns shares in Safari Health Inc – a digital health technology company.
The potential of digital health tools such as smartphones and sensors to increase access to and enhance delivery of healthcare is well known. However, a lack of regulation and delineation between those technologies seeking to offer direct clinical diagnostics and treatments and those involving clinical care enhancements or direct-to-consumer resources has led to patient and clinician confusion about the appropriate use and role of digital health. Here, we propose that creating boundaries and better defining the scope of digital health technology will advance the field through matching the right use cases with the right tools. We further propose that ethical clinicians, as stewards of standard of care, are well suited to uphold these boundaries and to safeguard best practices in digital health.
Declaration of interest
H.H. is an employee of Verily Life Sciences and owns equity in this company. The views expressed here are those of the authors and are not official views of Verily Life Sciences.
Smartphone Apps are one of the tools available to support patients who wish to quit smoking. Content analysis studies have indicated multiple deficiencies within these Apps including minimal use of evidence-based research and Nicotine Dependence Treatment Provider (NDTP) in App development. The aim of this study was to determine quality and features of smoking cessation Apps available on Android® and iOS® platforms.
The first fifty free smoking cessation Apps available for download using the search term smoking cessation on Google Play Store and Apple App Store were chosen. Each of these Apps was analyzed and categorized based on ratings, target audience age, language, and a variety of tracking functionalities noted on the Apps. Indications and suggestions regarding either the use of NDTP or evidence-based behavior change protocols were noted.
There were no significant differences in the features of smoking cessation Apps on Android and iOS. Only 15 percent of all Apps analyzed on both platforms indicated some involvement of NDTP and there was no difference between the two platforms. More than 50 percent of Apps studied were downloaded over half a million times and the average user rating was 3.89/5.00 for Android and 3.72/5.00 for iOS with no significant difference.
Most smoking cessation Apps in both platforms offer basic tracking functionalities with limited motivational tips. Only a handful of Apps have moved beyond this role and while their development is applaudable much innovation remains.
The aim of this study was to design and develop a set of, short message service (SMS) to promote specialized mental health care seeking within the framework of the Allillanchu Project.
The design phase consisted of 39 interviews with potential recipients of the SMS, about use of cellphones, and perceptions and motivations towards seeking mental health care. After the data collection, the research team developed a set of seven SMS for validation. The content validation phase consisted of 24 interviews. The participants answered questions regarding their understanding of the SMS contents and rated its appeal.
The seven SMS subjected to content validation were tailored to the recipient using their name. The reminder message included the working hours of the psychology service at the patient's health center. The motivational messages addressed perceived barriers and benefits when seeking mental health services. The average appeal score of the seven SMS was 9.0 (SD±0.4) of 10 points. Participants did not make significant suggestions to change the wording of the messages.
Five SMS were chosen to be used. This approach is likely to be applicable to other similar low-resource settings, and the methodology used can be adapted to develop SMS for other chronic conditions.
This qualitative study investigates how the Electronic Patient-Reported Outcome (ePRO) mobile application and portal system, designed to capture patient-reported measures to support self-management, affected primary care provider workflows.
The Canadian health system is facing an ageing population that is living with chronic disease. Disruptive innovations like mobile health technologies can help to support health system transformation needed to better meet the multifaceted needs of the complex care patient. However, there are challenges with implementing these technologies in primary care settings, in particular the effect on primary care provider workflows.
Over a six-week period interdisciplinary primary care providers (n=6) and their complex care patients (n=12), used the ePRO mobile application and portal to collaboratively goal-set, manage care plans, and support self-management using patient-reported measures. Secondary thematic analysis of focus groups, training sessions, and issue tracker reports captured user experiences at a Toronto area Family Health Team from October 2014 to January 2015.
Key issues raised by providers included: liability concerns associated with remote monitoring, increased documentation activities due to a lack of interoperability between the app and the electronic patient record, increased provider anxiety with regard to the potential for the app to disrupt and infringe upon appointment time, and increased demands for patient engagement. Primary care providers reported the app helped to focus care plans and to begin a collaborative conversation on goal-setting. However, throughout our investigation we found a high level of provider resistance evidenced by consistent attempts to shift the app towards fitting with existing workflows rather than adapting much of their behaviour. As health systems seek innovative and disruptive models to better serve this complex patient population, provider change resistance will need to be addressed. New models and technologies cannot be disruptive in an environment that is resisting change.
Non-communicable diseases (NCD) are the leading cause of death globally. Smart health technology and innovation is a potential strategy for increasing reach and for facilitating health behaviour change. Despite rapid growth in the availability and affordability of technology there remains a paucity of published and robust research in the area as it relates to health. The objective of the present paper is to review and provide a snapshot of a variety of contemporary examples of smart health strategies with a focus on evidence and research as it relates to prevention with a CVD management lens. In the present analysis, five examples will be discussed and they include a physician-directed strategy, consumer directed strategies, a public health approach and a screening strategy that utilises external hardware that connects to a smartphone. In conclusion, NCD have common risk factors and all have an association with nutrition and health. Smart health and innovation is evolving rapidly and may help with diagnosis, treatment and management. While on-going research, development and knowledge is needed, the growth of technology development and utilisation offers opportunities to reach more people and achieve better health outcomes at local, national and international levels.
Mobile mood-monitoring applications are increasingly used by mental health providers, widely advocated within research, and a potentially effective method to engage young people. However, little is known about their efficacy and usability in young populations.
A systematic review addressing three research questions focused on young people: (1) what are the psychometric properties of mobile mood-monitoring applications; (2) what is their usability; and (3) what are their positive and negative clinical impacts? Findings were synthesised narratively, study quality assessed and compared with evidence from adult studies.
We reviewed 25 articles. Studies on the psychometric properties of mobile mood-monitoring applications were sparse, but indicate questionable to excellent internal consistency, moderate concurrent validity and good usability. Participation rates ranged from 30% to 99% across studies, and appeared to be affected by methodological factors (e.g. payments) and individual characteristics (e.g. IQ score). Mobile mood-monitoring applications are positively perceived by youth, may reduce depressive symptoms by increasing emotional awareness, and could aid in the detection of mental health and substance use problems. There was very limited evidence on potential negative impacts.
Evidence for the use of mood-monitoring applications in youth is promising but limited due to a lack of high-quality studies. Future work should explicate the effects of mobile mood-monitoring applications on effective self-regulation, clinical outcomes across disorders and young people's engagement with mental health services. Potential negative impacts in this population should also be investigated, as the adult literature suggests that application use could potentially increase negativity and depression symptoms.
Internet and mobile technologies offer potentially critical ways of delivering mental health support in low-resource settings. Much evidence indicates an enormous negative impact of mental health problems in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs), and many of these problems are caused, or worsened, by exposure to wars, conflicts, natural and human-caused disasters, and other traumatic events. Though specific mental health treatments have been found to be efficacious and cost-effective for low-resource settings, most individuals living in these areas do not have access to them. Low-intensity task-sharing interventions will help, but there is a limit to the scalability and sustainability of human resources in these settings. To address the needs of trauma survivors, it will be important to develop and implement Internet and mobile technology resources to help reduce the scarcity, inequity, and inefficiency of current mental health services in LMICs. Mobile and Internet resources are experiencing a rapid growth in LMICs and can help address time, stigma, and cost barriers and connect those who have been socially isolated by traumatic events. This review discusses current research in technological interventions in low-resource settings and outlines key issues and future challenges and opportunities. Though formidable challenges exist for large-scale deployment of mobile and Internet mental health technologies, work to date indicates that these technologies are indeed feasible to develop, evaluate, and deliver to those in need of mental health services, and that they can be effective.
We conducted two studies to test the validity, reliability, feasibility and acceptability of using video chat technology to quantify dietary and pill-taking (i.e. supplement and medication) adherence. In study 1, we investigated whether video chat technology can accurately quantify adherence to dietary and pill-taking interventions. Mock study participants ate food items and swallowed pills, while performing randomised scripted ‘cheating’ behaviours to mimic non-adherence. Monitoring was conducted in a cross-over design, with two monitors watching in-person and two watching remotely by Skype on a smartphone. For study 2, a twenty-two-item online survey was sent to a listserv with more than 20 000 unique email addresses of past and present study participants to assess the feasibility and acceptability of the technology. For the dietary adherence tests, monitors detected 86 % of non-adherent events (sensitivity) in-person v. 78 % of events via video chat monitoring (P=0·12), with comparable inter-rater agreement (0·88 v. 0·85; P=0·62). However, for pill-taking, non-adherence trended towards being more easily detected in-person than by video chat (77 v. 60 %; P=0·08), with non-significantly higher inter-rater agreement (0·85 v. 0·69; P=0·21). Survey results from study 2 (n 1076 respondents; ≥5 % response rate) indicated that 86·4 % of study participants had video chatting hardware, 73·3 % were comfortable using the technology and 79·8 % were willing to use it for clinical research. Given the capability of video chat technology to reduce participant burden and outperform other adherence monitoring methods such as dietary self-report and pill counts, video chatting is a novel and promising platform to quantify dietary and pill-taking adherence.
Stroke is a leading cause of disability worldwide, with approximately one third of people left with permanent deficits impacting on their function. This may contribute to a physically inactive lifestyle and further associated health issues. Current research suggests that people after stroke are not meeting the recommended levels of physical activity, and are less active than people with other chronic illnesses. Thus, it is important to understand how to support people after stroke to uptake and maintain physical activity. Wearable sensors and mobile health (mHealth) technologies are a potential platform to measure and promote physical activity. Some of these technologies may incorporate behaviour change techniques such as real-time feedback. Although wearable activity trackers and smartphone technology are widely available, the feasibility and applicability of these technologies for people after stroke is unclear. This article reviews the devices available for assessment of physical activity in stroke and discusses the potential for advances in technology to promote physical activity in this population.
The field of Mobile health (mHealth), which includes mobile phone applications (apps), is growing rapidly and has the potential to transform healthcare by increasing its quality and efficiency. The present paper focuses particularly on mobile technology for body weight management, including mobile phone apps for weight loss and the available evidence on their effectiveness. Translation of behaviour change theory into weight management strategies, including integration in mobile technology is also discussed. Moreover, the paper presents and discusses the myPace platform as a case in point. There is little clinical evidence on the effectiveness of currently available mobile phone apps in enabling behaviour change and improving health-related outcomes, including sustained body weight loss. Moreover, it is unclear to what extent these apps have been developed in collaboration with health professionals, such as dietitians, and the extent to which apps draw on and operationalise behaviour change techniques has not been explored. Furthermore, presently weight management apps are not built for use as part of dietetic practice, or indeed healthcare more widely, where face-to-face engagement is fundamental for instituting the building blocks for sustained lifestyle change. myPace is an innovative mobile technology for weight management meant to be embedded into and to enhance dietetic practice. Developed out of systematic, iterative stages of engagement with dietitians and consumers, it is uniquely designed to complement and support the trusted health practitioner–patient relationship. Future mHealth technology would benefit if engagement with health professionals and/or targeted patient groups, and behaviour change theory stood as the basis for technology development. Particularly, integrating technology into routine health care practice, rather than replacing one with the other, could be the way forward.
There are several converging forces that create a particularly opportune time for technological solutions to enhance cost efficiency in healthcare. Health care costs are unsustainable, yet many patients do not have adequate access to state-of-the-art treatments or to ongoing disease management. Consumerism is an increasingly powerful force in healthcare and the emphasis on personalised medicine will help to define future research and clinical treatment strategies. At the same time, the phenomenal advances in internet utilisation and mobile device applications provide possibilities that have never before existed. We have reason to be very optimistic about these opportunities, but appropriate research will be required to develop scalable and sustainable methods as well as determine expected outcomes.
Worldwide, individuals with severe psychiatric illnesses struggle to receive evidence-based care. While science has made remarkably slow progress in the development and implementation of effective psychiatric treatments, we have witnessed enormous progress in the emergence and global penetration of personal computing technology. The present paper examines how digital resources that are already widespread (e.g., smartphones, laptop computers), can be leveraged to support psychiatric care. These instruments and implementation strategies can increase patient access to evidenced-based care, help individuals overcome the barriers associated with the stigma of mental illness, and facilitate new treatment paradigms that harness wireless communication, sensors and the Internet, to enhance treatment potency. Innovative digital treatment programmes that have been used successfully with a range of conditions (i.e., schizophrenia, posttraumatic stress disorder and borderline personality disorder) are presented in the paper to demonstrate the utility and potential impact of technology-based interventions in the years ahead.
Introduction: With evidence to support the use of text messaging for smoking cessation, some quitlines in North America have incorporated text messaging into their service offerings.
Aims: This study sought to evaluate whether integrated phone counselling and text messaging services are acceptable to quitline callers, and to identify strategies for improving text messaging services in the context of a quitline.
Methods: Thirty-five adult callers of the New Mexico state quitline who had enrolled in multi-call phone counselling and Text2Quit, a text messaging programme, were interviewed by phone. Interviews assessed use and acceptability of the phone counselling and text messaging interventions.
Results: Use of phone counselling and text messaging was generally high among participants. While most participants reported that they would highly recommend Text2Quit (75.8%) or phone counselling (78.8%) individually, a relatively higher proportion indicated they would highly recommend the combined services (93.9%). Suggestions for improvement focused on increased customisation and personalisation.
Conclusions: This study provides preliminary evidence for the acceptability of integrated phone counselling and text messaging services. Research is needed that explores the impact of these widely-used integrated services on smoking cessation.
Mobile health care technology (mHealth) has the potential to improve communication and clinical information management in disasters. This study reviews the literature on health care and computing published in the past five years to determine the types and efficacy of mobile applications available to disaster medicine, along with lessons learned.
Five types of applications are identified: (1) disaster scene management; (2) remote monitoring of casualties; (3) medical image transmission (teleradiology); (4) decision support applications; and (5) field hospital information technology (IT) systems. Most projects have not yet reached the deployment stage, but evaluation exercises show that mHealth should allow faster processing and transport of patients, improved accuracy of triage and better monitoring of unattended patients at a disaster scene. Deployments of teleradiology and field hospital IT systems to disaster zones suggest that mHealth can improve resource allocation and patient care. The key problems include suitability of equipment for use in disaster zones and providing sufficient training to ensure staff familiarity with complex equipment. Future research should focus on providing unbiased observations of the use of mHealth in disaster medicine.
CaseT, MorrisonC, VuylstekeA. The Clinical Application of Mobile Technology to Disaster Medicine. Prehosp Disaster Med. 2012;27(5):1-9.
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