mHealth as effective as clinic-based intervention for people with serious mental illness

May 25, 2018, American Psychiatric Association
In the study of 163 patients, 90 percent of those assigned to the smartphone app used it at least once, Credit: UW Medicine

A mobile health (mHealth) intervention was found to be as effective as a clinic-based group intervention for people with serious mental illness in a new study published online today in Psychiatric Services.

In a randomized controlled trial, researchers compared an mHealth approach (FOCUS), using mobile phones to deliver , to a more traditional clinic-based group intervention, the Wellness Recovery Action Plan (WRAP). The study, led by Dror Ben-Zeev, Ph.D., with the University of Washington, Seattle, looked at the differences in treatment engagement, satisfaction, improvement in symptoms, and quality of life.

Participants included 163 individuals with long-term, serious , including schizophrenia, schizoaffective disorder, bipolar disorder and major depressive disorder. Participants were randomly assigned to either the smartphone-based FOCUS group or the clinic-based WRAP group, and the interventions lasted 12 weeks. Assessments were done pre-intervention, post-intervention, and at a six-month follow-up.

FOCUS is a smartphone-delivered intervention for people with serious mental illness with three main components: the FOCUS app, a clinician dashboard, and support from an mHealth specialist. It includes daily self-assessment prompts and content that can be accessed 24 hours a day as either brief video or audio clips, or a series of written material with images. FOCUS users' responses to daily self-assessments are relayed to the support specialist, who holds weekly calls with each participant.

WRAP is a widely used evidence-based, group self-management intervention led by trained facilitators with lived experience of mental illness. It emphasizes individuals' equipping themselves with personal wellness tools focusing on recovery concepts, such as hope and self-advocacy.

On random assignment, participants in the mHealth group were more likely to begin mental health treatment (90 percent), compared with WRAP (58 percent). Significantly more FOCUS participants completed eight or more weeks of treatment, but the percentage completing the full 12 weeks was similar for the two groups. After the intervention, participants in both groups improved significantly. WRAP participants showed significant improvements in recovery at the end of treatment (three months), and mHealth participants showed significant improvement in recovery and quality of life at six months.

Participants in both groups reported high satisfaction, noting the interventions were enjoyable and interactive and helped them feel better. Age, gender, race, having previous experience with smartphones, and number of previous psychiatric hospitalizations were not associated with recovery outcomes.

The authors report this is the first comparing a smartphone intervention to a clinic-based intervention involving individuals with schizophrenia spectrum disorders.

Explore further: Smartphone app may up medication adherence in HTN

More information: Dror Ben-Zeev et al, Mobile Health (mHealth) Versus Clinic-Based Group Intervention for People With Serious Mental Illness: A Randomized Controlled Trial, Psychiatric Services (2018). DOI: 10.1176/appi.ps.201800063

Related Stories

Smartphone app may up medication adherence in HTN

April 18, 2018
(HealthDay)—Randomization to use of a smartphone app is associated with a small improvement in medication adherence but no change in systolic blood pressure among individuals with poorly controlled hypertension, according ...

Community health worker-led intervention beneficial in T2DM

May 7, 2018
(HealthDay)—A community health worker (CHW)-led diabetes self-management education (DSME) program is associated with sustained improvement in hemoglobin A1c (HbA1c), according to a study published online April 27 in Diabetes ...

Text message-based intervention helps with sobriety maintenance

March 9, 2018
(HealthDay)—Mobile alcohol interventions may help liver transplant candidates with alcoholic liver disease (ALD) maintain sobriety, according to a study published online March 2 in Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research.

Study finds tai chi significantly reduces depression symptoms in Chinese-Americans

May 25, 2017
A 12-week program of instruction and practice of the Chinese martial art tai chi led to significantly reduced symptoms of depression in Chinese Americans not receiving any other treatments. The pilot study conducted by investigators ...

Pioneering online treatment for people with bipolar disorder

August 13, 2014
The first effective web-based treatment for Bipolar Disorder based on the latest research evidence has been developed by psychologists.

Culturally adapted intervention may help Hispanics with serious mental illness

February 2, 2018
The first study to examine the initial impact of a culturally-adapted health care manager intervention aimed at helping Hispanics with serious mental illness finds the intervention shows potential for improving their health ...

Recommended for you

Psychiatric disorders share an underlying genetic basis

June 21, 2018
Psychiatric disorders such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder often run in families. In a new international collaboration, researchers explored the genetic connections between these and other disorders of the brain at ...

One year of school comes with an IQ bump, meta-analysis shows

June 21, 2018
A year of schooling leaves students with new knowledge, and it also equates with a small but noticeable increase to students' IQ, according to a systematic meta-analysis published in Psychological Science, a journal of the ...

Ketamine acts fast to treat depression and its effects last—but how?

June 21, 2018
In contrast to most antidepressant medications, which can take several weeks to reduce depressive symptoms, ketamine—a commonly used veterinary anesthetic—can lift a person out of a deep depression within minutes of its ...

Mindful movement may help lower stress, anxiety

June 21, 2018
Taking a walk may be a good opportunity to mentally review your to-do list, but using the time to instead be more mindful of your breathing and surroundings may help boost your wellbeing, according to researchers.

Brain tingles—first study of its kind reveals physiological benefits of ASMR

June 21, 2018
Autonomous sensory meridian response (ASMR) – the relaxing 'brain tingles' experienced by some people in response to specific triggers, such as whispering, tapping and slow hand movements – may have benefits for both ...

New study debunks Dale Carnegie advice to 'put yourself in their shoes'

June 21, 2018
Putting yourself in someone else's shoes and relying on intuition or "gut instinct" isn't an accurate way to determine what they're thinking or feeling," say researchers from Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (BGU), the ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.