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Journal Description

JMIR Formative Research (JFR) (a PubMed-indexed sister journal of J Med Internet Res (JMIR) and JMIR mHealth & uHealth, the leading eHealth and mHealth journals by impact factor) publishes peer-reviewed, openly accessible papers containing results from process evaluations, feasibility/pilot studies and other kinds of formative research and preliminary results. While the original focus was on the design of medical and health-related research and technology innovations, JFR publishes studies from all areas of medical and health research.

Formative research is research that occurs before a program is designed and implemented, or while a program is being conducted. Formative research can help

  • define and understand populations in need of a intervention or public health program
  • create programs that are specific to the needs of those populations
  • ensure programs are acceptable and feasible to users before launching
  • improve the relationship between users and agencies/research groups
  • demonstrate the feasibility, use, satisfaction with, or problems with a program before large-scale summative evaluation (looking at health outcomes)

Many funding agencies will expect some sort of pilot/feasibility/process evaluation before funding a larger study such as a Randomized Controlled Trial (RCT).

Formative research should be an integral part of developing programs or adapting programs, and should be used while the program is on-going to help refine and improve program activities. Thus, formative evaluation can and should also occur in form of a process evaluation alongside a summative evaluation such as a RCT.

This journal fills an important gap in the academic journals landscape, as it publishes sound and peer-reviewed formative research that is criticial for investigators to apply for further funding, but that is usually not published in outcomes-focussed medical journals aiming for impact and generalizability.

Summative evaluations of programs and apps/software that have undergone a thorough formative evaluation before launch have a better chance to be published in our high-impact flagship journals (JMIR mHealth, J Med Internet Res, JMIR Serious Games), thus we encourage authors to submit - as a first step - their formative evaluations in JMIR Formative Res (and their evaluation protocols in JMIR Res Protoc). 

JMIR Formative Res has been accepted for indexing in PubMed and PubMed Central.

 

Recent Articles:

  • BioBase app (montage). Source: App Store / Placeit; Copyright: JMIR Publications; URL: http://formative.jmir.org/2018/2/e12227/; License: Creative Commons Attribution (CC-BY).

    Use of a Biofeedback Breathing App to Augment Poststress Physiological Recovery: Randomized Pilot Study

    Abstract:

    Background: The speed of physiological recovery from stress may be a marker for cardiovascular disease risk. Stress management programs that incorporate guided breathing have been shown to moderate the stress response and augment recovery. Objective: The aim of this study was to examine the effectiveness of an app-based brief relaxation intervention (BioBase) for facilitating physiological recovery in individuals exposed to a brief psychological stressor. Methods: A total of 75 participants (44 women) completed a stressor speech task and were randomly assigned to one of three conditions: control, rumination, or an app-based relaxation breathing (BioBase) conditions. Heart rate variability (HRV) was assessed as a measure of autonomic function at baseline (6 min), during stress (6 min), and during recovery (6 min). Results: There was a significant increase in subjective stress following stress exposure, but the ratings returned to baseline after recovery in all three groups. In addition, there was a significant decrease in vagally mediated HRV in the poststress period. During recovery, the root mean square of successive differences (P<.001), the percentage of successive interbeat (RR) intervals that differ by >50 ms (pNN50; P<.001), and high-frequency (P<.02) HRV were significantly higher in the BioBase breathing condition than the rumination and control conditions. There was no difference in HRV values between the rumination and control conditions during recovery. Conclusions: App-based relaxed breathing interventions could be effective in reducing cardiovascular disease risk. These results provide additional utility of biofeedback breathing in augmenting physiological recovery from psychological stress.

  • An eligibility question. Source: Image created by the Authors; Copyright: The Authors; URL: https://formative.jmir.org/2019/1/e10246/; License: Creative Commons Attribution (CC-BY).

    Evaluation of a Mobile Device Survey System for Behavioral Risk Factors (SHAPE): App Development and Usability Study

    Abstract:

    Background: Risk factors, including limited exercise, poor sleep, smoking, and alcohol and drug use, if mitigated early, can improve long-term health. Risk prevalence has traditionally been measured using methods that now have diminished participation rates. With >75% of American citizens owning smartphones, new data collection methods using mobile apps can be evaluated. Objective: The objective of our study was to describe the development, implementation, and evaluation of a mobile device–based survey system for behavioral risk assessment. Specifically, we evaluated its feasibility, usability, acceptability, and validity. Methods: We enrolled 536 students from 3 Vermont State Colleges. Iterative mobile app development incorporated focus groups, extensive testing, and the following 4 app versions: iOS standard, iOS gamified, Android standard, and Android gamified. We aimed to capture survey data, paradata, and ambient data such as geolocation. Using 3 separate surveys, we asked a total of 27 questions that included demographic characteristics, behavioral health, and questions regarding the app’s usability and survey process. Results: Planned enrollment was exceeded in just a few days. There were 1392 “hits” to the landing page where the app could be downloaded. Excluding known project testers and others not part of the study population, 670 participants downloadeded the SHAPE app. Of those, 94.9% of participants (636/670) agreed to participate by providing in-app consent. Of the 636 who provided consent, 84.3% (536/636) were deemed eligible for the study. The majority of eligible respondents completed the initial survey (459/536, 85.6%), whereas 29.9% (160/536) completed the second survey and 28.5% (153/536) completed the third survey. The SHAPE survey obtained 414 participants on the behavioral risk items in survey 1, which is nearly double the 209 participants who completed the traditional Vermont College Health Survey in 2014. SHAPE survey responses were consistent with the traditionally collected Vermont College Health Survey data. Conclusions: This study provides data highlighting the potential for mobile apps to improve population-based health, including an assessment of recruitment methods, burden and response rapidity, and future adaptations. Although gamification and monetary rewards were relatively unimportant to this study population, item response theory may be technologically feasible to reduce individual survey burden. Additional data collected by smartphones, such as geolocation, could be important in additional analysis, such as neighborhood characteristics and their impact on behavioral risk factors. Mobile tools that offer rapid adaptation for specific populations may improve research data collection for primary prevention and could be used to improve engagement and health outcomes.

  • Source: Image created by the Authors; Copyright: The Authors; URL: http://formative.jmir.org/2019/1/e12456/; License: Creative Commons Attribution (CC-BY).

    A Virtual Reality Food Court to Study Meal Choices in Youth: Design and Assessment of Usability

    Abstract:

    Background: Regular consumption of take-out and fast foods with sugary drinks is associated with poor quality diets and higher prevalence of obesity. Among the settings where such food is consumed is the food court typically found in shopping malls prominent in many countries. Objective: The objective of this research was to develop a virtual reality food court that could be used to test food environmental interventions, such as taxation, and ultimately to facilitate the selection of healthier food choices. Methods: Fourteen food courts in Sydney, Australia were selected to include those in the city center and suburbs of high and low socioeconomic status. Researchers visited the courts to collect information on number and type of food outlets, all menu items for sale, cost of foods and beverages and sales promotions. This information was used to assemble 14 food outlets typically found in food courts, and representative menus were compiled. The UNITY gaming platform was used to design a virtual reality food court that could be used with HTC VIVE goggles. Participants navigated the virtual reality food court using the head-mounted display, keyboard, and mouse and selected a lunch meal, including food and beverage. A validated questionnaire on presence within the virtual reality food court and system usability was completed at the end of the session. The constructs for presence included a sense of control, sensory fidelity, realism, distraction, and involvement. Questions were rated on a scale from 1 (worst) through 7 (best) for each of 28 questions giving a maximum total score of 196. The systems usability scale (SUS) that gives a final score out of 100 was also assessed. Results: One hundred and sixty-two participants with a mean age of 22.5 (SD 3.1) years completed the survey. The mean score for total presence was 144 (SE 1.4) consisting of control: 62.1 (SE 0.8), realism: 17.5 (SE 0.2), involvement: 9.6 (SE 0.2), sensory fidelity: 34.9 (SE 0.4), and distraction: 24.0 (SE 0.3). The mean SUS was 69 (SE 1.1). Conclusions: Virtual reality shows promise as a tool to study food choice for test interventions to inform practice and policy.

  • Source: iStock by Getty Images; Copyright: Dirima; URL: https://www.istockphoto.com/photo/urban-fitness-woman-texting-on-her-smarphone-gm504986362-83445485?clarity=false; License: Licensed by the authors.

    Community Engagement in the Development of an mHealth-Enabled Physical Activity and Cardiovascular Health Intervention (Step It Up): Pilot Focus Group Study

    Abstract:

    Background: Community-based participatory research is an effective tool for improving health outcomes in minority communities. Few community-based participatory research studies have evaluated methods of optimizing smartphone apps for health technology-enabled interventions in African Americans. Objective: This study aimed to utilize focus groups (FGs) for gathering qualitative data to inform the development of an app that promotes physical activity (PA) among African American women in Washington, DC. Methods: We recruited a convenience sample of African American women (N=16, age range 51-74 years) from regions of Washington, DC metropolitan area with the highest burden of cardiovascular disease. Participants used an app created by the research team, which provided motivational messages through app push notifications and educational content to promote PA. Subsequently, participants engaged in semistructured FG interviews led by moderators who asked open-ended questions about participants’ experiences of using the app. FGs were audiorecorded and transcribed verbatim, with subsequent behavioral theory-driven thematic analysis. Key themes based on the Health Belief Model and emerging themes were identified from the transcripts. Three independent reviewers iteratively coded the transcripts until consensus was reached. Then, the final codebook was approved by a qualitative research expert. Results: In this study, 10 main themes emerged. Participants emphasized the need to improve the app by optimizing automation, increasing relatability (eg, photos that reflect target demographic), increasing educational material (eg, health information), and connecting with community resources (eg, cooking classes and exercise groups). Conclusions: Involving target users in the development of a culturally sensitive PA app is an essential step for creating an app that has a higher likelihood of acceptance and use in a technology-enabled intervention. This may decrease health disparities in cardiovascular diseases by more effectively increasing PA in a minority population.

  • Acceptance of Mobile Health Apps for Disease Management Among People With Multiple Sclerosis: Web-Based Survey Study

    Abstract:

    Background: Mobile health (mHealth) apps might have the potential to promote self-management of people with multiple sclerosis (MS) in everyday life. However, the uptake of MS apps remains poor, and little is known about the facilitators and barriers for their efficient utilization, such as technology acceptance. Objective: The aim of this study was to examine the acceptance of mHealth apps for disease management in the sense of behavioral intentions to use and explore determinants of utilization among people with MS based on the Unified Theory of Acceptance and Use of Technology (UTAUT). Methods: Participants for this Web-based cross-sectional study were recruited throughout Germany with the support of regional MS associations and self-help groups. To identify determinants of intention to use MS apps, a measure based on the UTAUT was adapted with 4 key determinants (performance expectancy, effort expectancy, social influence, and facilitating conditions) and extended by Intolerance of Uncertainty (IU) and electronic health literacy. Potential influencing effects of both MS and computer self-efficacy (C-SE) as mediators and fatigue as a moderator were analyzed using Hayes’s PROCESS macro (SPSS version 3.0) for IBM SPSS version 24.0. Results: A total of 98 participants (mean age 47.03 years, SD 10.17; 66/98, 67% female) with moderate fatigue levels completed the survey. Although most participants (91/98, 92%) were daily smartphone users, almost two-thirds (62/98, 63%) reported no experience with MS apps. Overall, the acceptance was moderate on average (mean 3.11, SD 1.31, minimum=1 and maximum=5), with lower scores among persons with no experience (P=.04) and higher scores among current users (P<.001). In multiple regression analysis (R2=63% variance explained), performance expectancy (beta=.41) and social influence (beta=.33) were identified as significant predictors of acceptance (all P<.001). C-SE was confirmed as a partial mediator in the relationship between IU and acceptance (indirect effect: B=−.095, 95% CI −0.227 to −0.01). Furthermore, a moderated mediation by C-SE was shown in the relationship between IU and behavioral intentions to use MS apps for low (95% CI −0.42 to −0.01) and moderate levels (95% CI −0.27 to −0.01) of fatigue. Conclusions: Overall, this exploratory pilot study indicates for the first time that positive expectations about the helpfulness for self-management purposes and social support might be important factors to be considered for improving the acceptance of MS apps among smartphone users with MS. However, given some inconsistent findings, especially regarding the role of effort expectancy and IU and self-efficacy, the conceptual model needs replication with a larger sample of people with MS, varying more in fatigue levels, and a longitudinal assessment of the actual usage of MS apps predicted by acceptance in the sense of behavioral intentions to use.

  • BackPocketDriver app (montage). Source: The Authors; Copyright: The Authors; URL: http://formative.jmir.org/2018/2/e25/; License: Licensed by JMIR.

    Behavior Change for Youth Drivers: Design and Development of a Smartphone-Based App (BackPocketDriver)

    Abstract:

    Background: The over-representation of youth in road crash injury and fatality rates is a major public health issue globally. In New Zealand, youth drivers are most vulnerable in the restricted license period when they can drive without the requirement for supervision by an experienced adult. Behavioral change interventions delivered using mobile phone technology to young drivers could serve as a useful mechanism to develop safe driving skills, but this potential remains to be fully explored. Objective: This study aimed to apply behavioral change principles to design and develop a smartphone-based intervention with the aim of helping youth drivers to develop and hone safe driving skills. Methods: An iterative process was used to support development of the smartphone intervention. We reviewed behavioral change literature, identifying fundamental principles and exploring use of behavior change techniques (BCTs) in other areas of public health. We engaged with key stakeholders, including young drivers, government agencies, and relevant organizations. We also took into account technology adoption considerations when designing the app. Results: We developed BackPocketDriver (BPD), an Android smartphone app that uses in-built sensors to monitor and infer driver behavior. The app implements features that were identified during the design process and are traceable to BCTs and theory. A key feature is messaging, which is used to instruct, motivate, educate, and relay feedback to participants. In addition, messaging addresses attitudes and beliefs. Other features include journey feedback summaries, goal setting, achievements, and leaderboards. Conclusions: BPD’s design rests on a sound foundation of theory and evidence. With explicit links between theory and features, the app aims to be an effective intervention to change and improve youth driver behavior. The next phase of this study is to run a small pilot study to assess BPD’s effectiveness.

  • The focus group setting. Source: Image created by the Authors; Copyright: Esther Metting; URL: http://formative.jmir.org/2018/2/e22/; License: Licensed by JMIR.

    Assessing the Needs and Perspectives of Patients With Asthma and Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease on Patient Web Portals: Focus Group Study

    Abstract:

    Background: As accessibility to the internet has increased in society, many health care organizations have developed patient Web portals (PWPs), which can provide a range of self-management options to improve patient access. However, the available evidence suggests that they are used inefficiently and do not benefit patients with low health literacy. Asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) are common chronic diseases that require ongoing self-management. Moreover, patients with COPD are typically older and have lower health literacy. Objective: This study aimed to obtain and present an overview of patients’ perspectives of PWPs to facilitate the development of a portal that better meets the needs of patients with asthma and COPD. Methods: We performed a focus group study using semistructured interviews in 3 patient groups from the north of the Netherlands who were recruited through the Dutch Lung Foundation. Each group met 3 times for 2 hours each at a 1-week interval. Data were analyzed with coding software, and patient descriptors were analyzed with nonparametric tests. The consolidated criteria for reporting qualitative research were followed when conducting the study. Results: We included 29 patients (16/29, 55% male; mean age 65 [SD 10] years) with COPD (n=14), asthma-COPD overlap (n=4), asthma (n=10), or other respiratory disease (n=1). There was a large variation in the internet experience; some patients hardly used the internet (4/29, 14%), whereas others used internet >3 times a week (23/29, 79%). In general, patients were positive about having access to a PWP, considering access to personal medical records as the most important option, though only after discussion with their physician. A medication overview was considered a useful option. We found that communication between health care professionals could be improved if patients could use the PWP to share information with their health care professionals. However, as participants were worried about the language and usability of portals, it was recommended that language should be adapted to the patient level. Another concern was that disease monitoring through Web-based questionnaire use would only be useful if the results were discussed with health care professionals. Conclusions: Participants were positive about PWPs and considered them a logical step. Today, most patients tend to be better educated and have internet access, while also being more assertive and better informed about their disease. A PWP could support these patients. Our participants also provided practical suggestions for implementation in current and future PWP developments. The next step will be to develop a portal based on these recommendations and assess whether it meets the needs of patients and health care providers.

  • Using iPrevent, an online breast cancer risk assessment and management tool (montage). Source: Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre; Copyright: Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre; URL: http://formative.jmir.org/2018/2/e24/; License: Licensed by JMIR.

    The iPrevent Online Breast Cancer Risk Assessment and Risk Management Tool: Usability and Acceptability Testing

    Abstract:

    Background: iPrevent estimates breast cancer (BC) risk and provides tailored risk management information. Objective: The objective of this study was to assess the usability and acceptability of the iPrevent prototype. Methods: Clinicians were eligible for participation in the study if they worked in primary care, breast surgery, or genetics clinics. Female patients aged 18-70 years with no personal cancer history were eligible. Clinicians were first familiarized with iPrevent using hypothetical paper-based cases and then actor scenarios; subsequently, they used iPrevent with their patients. Clinicians and patients completed the System Usability Scale (SUS) and an Acceptability questionnaire 2 weeks after using iPrevent; patients also completed measures of BC worry, anxiety, risk perception, and knowledge pre- and 2 weeks post-iPrevent. Data were summarized using descriptive statistics. Results: The SUS and Acceptability questionnaires were completed by 19 of 20 clinicians and 37 of 43 patients. Usability was above average (SUS score >68) for 68% (13/19) clinicians and 76% (28/37) patients. The amount of information provided by iPrevent was reported as “about right” by 89% (17/19) clinicians and 89% (33/37) patients and 95% (18/19) and 97% (36/37), respectively, would recommend iPrevent to others, although 53% (10/19) clinicians and 27% (10/37) patients found it too long. Exploratory analyses suggested that iPrevent could improve risk perception, decrease frequency of BC worry, and enhance BC prevention knowledge without changing state anxiety. Conclusions: The iPrevent prototype demonstrated good usability and acceptability. Because concerns about length could be an implementation barrier, data entry has been abbreviated in the publicly available version of iPrevent.

  • Source: Joint Base Langley-Eustis (Monica Roybal); Copyright: US Air Force; URL: https://www.jble.af.mil/News/Photos/igphoto/2001912825/; License: Public Domain (CC0).

    Barriers and Opportunities for Using Wearable Devices to Increase Physical Activity Among Veterans: Pilot Study

    Abstract:

    Background: Few studies have examined the use of wearable devices among the veteran population. Objective: The objective of this study was to evaluate veterans’ perceptions of and experiences with wearable devices and identify the potential barriers and opportunities to using such devices to increase physical activity levels in this population. Methods: Veterans able to ambulate with or without assistance completed surveys about their mobile technology use and physical activity levels. They were then given the option of using a wearable device to monitor their activity levels. Follow-up telephone interviews were conducted after 2 months. Results: A total of 16 veterans were enrolled in this study, and all of them agreed to take home and use the wearable device to monitor their activity levels. At follow-up, 91% (10/11) veterans were still using the device daily. Veterans identified both opportunities and barriers for incorporating these devices into interventions to increase physical activity. Conclusions: Veterans engaged in using wearable devices at high rates.

  • Source: Freepik; Copyright: Supreeya Chantalao; URL: https://www.freepik.com/free-photo/woman-in-fitness-clothing-using-smartphone-healthy-lifestyle-and-workout-concept_1198947.htm; License: Licensed by the authors.

    Time Series Visualizations of Mobile Phone-Based Daily Diary Reports of Stress, Physical Activity, and Diet Quality in Mostly Ethnic Minority Mothers:...

    Abstract:

    Background: Health behavior patterns reported through daily diary data are important to understand and intervene upon at the individual level in N-of-1 trials and related study designs. There is often interest in relationships between multiple outcomes, such as stress and health behavior. However, analyses often utilize regressions that evaluate aggregate effects across individuals, and standard analyses target single outcomes. Objective: This paper aims to illustrate how individuals’ daily reports of stress and health behavior (time series) can be explored using visualization tools. Methods: Secondary analysis was conducted on 6 months of daily diary reports of stress and health behavior (physical activity and diet quality) from mostly ethnic minority mothers who pilot-tested a self-monitoring mobile health app. Time series with minimal missing data from 14 of the 44 mothers were analyzed. Correlations between stress and health behavior within each time series were reported as a preliminary step. Stress and health behavior time series patterns were visualized by plotting moving averages and time points where mean shifts in the data occurred (changepoints). Results: Median correlation was small and negative for associations of stress with physical activity (r=−.14) and diet quality (r=−.08). Moving averages and changepoints for stress and health behavior were aligned for some participants but not for others. A third subset of participants exhibited little variation in stress and health behavior reports. Conclusions: Median correlations in this study corroborate prior findings. In addition, time series visualizations highlighted variations in stress and health behavior across individuals and time points, which are difficult to capture through correlations and regression-based summary measures.

  • Lab sample. Source: Pexels; Copyright: Martin Lopez; URL: https://www.pexels.com/photo/two-test-tubes-954585/; License: Licensed by JMIR.

    Web-Delivered Multimedia Training Materials for the Self-Collection of Dried Blood Spots: A Formative Project

    Abstract:

    Background: The use of dried blood spots (DBS) in biomedical research has been increasing as an objective measure for variables that are typically plagued by self-report, such as smoking status and medication adherence. The development of training materials for the self-collection of DBS that can be delivered through the Web would allow for broader use of this methodology. Objective: The objective of this study was to evaluate the acceptability and feasibility of the self-collection of DBS using newly developed multimedia training materials that were delivered through the Web. We also aimed to assess the usability of the collected DBS samples. Methods: We recruited participants through Facebook advertising for two distinct studies. The first study evaluated the acceptability of our newly developed DBS training materials, while the second assessed the implementation of this protocol into a larger Web-based study. Results: In the first study, participants (N=115) were aged, on average, 26.1 (SD 6.4) years. Training materials were acceptable (113/115, 98.2%, of participants were willing to collect DBS again) and produced usable samples (110/115, 95.7%, collected DBS were usable). In the second study, response rate was 25.0% (41/164), with responders being significantly younger than nonresponders (20.3 [SD 0.2] vs 22.0 [SD 0.4]; P<.001), and 92% (31/41) of collected DBS samples were usable by the laboratory. Conclusions: Overall, while the protocol is acceptable, feasible, and produced usable samples, additional work is needed to improve response rates.

  • Source: The Authors / Placeit; Copyright: JMIR Publications; URL: http://formative.jmir.org/2018/2/e23/; License: Creative Commons Attribution (CC-BY).

    Using Cocreation in the Process of Designing a Smartphone App for Adolescents and Young Adults With Cancer: Prototype Development Study

    Abstract:

    Background: Adolescent and young adult (AYA) oncology and hematology is a developing field of medicine, focusing on a population that faces many challenges throughout medical treatment and beyond. Mobile health (mHealth) interventions provide exciting new opportunities for improvement of health-related quality of life (HRQoL) in AYAs with cancer. Many smartphone apps are currently available for AYAs with cancer; however, for AYAs with cancer, very few apps have been designed with direct input from AYAs themselves or have demonstrated their effectiveness and benefit. Objective: The objective of this project was to develop the prototype of a smartphone app for AYAs with cancer through the process of cocreation, with the active input of AYAs who have received treatment for cancer directly impacting content and design. Methods: Patients were recruited from a population of Danish AYAs who had received treatment for cancer between the ages of 15 and 29 years. The cocreation process was completed over the course of 3 workshops and intermittent ad hoc meetings, where the recruited AYAs worked in coordination with 1 nurse, 1 doctor, and 2 representatives from a digital agency and app developer. During each workshop, participants prioritized their goals for the app. After new app content was developed, feedback was requested from the participants, and changes were made accordingly. This iterative process continued until consensus on final product features and design were achieved. Health care professionals provided minimal input and primarily performed observational roles in the workshops, with direct interaction limited to introducing the project and explaining measurement features of the app in development. Results: Three key features to be included in the prototype app were identified from the cocreation workshops: (1) a community forum; (2) an information library; and (3) a symptom and side-effect tracking tool. Bright, warm colors were selected for the app by the participating AYAs. The final prototype will be launched for pilot testing and implementation testing in February of 2018. Conclusions: The process of cocreation is a user-involved process that can create an end product that is useful and customized for the target population. This process, as such, is a beneficial process to utilize when addressing the specific needs of AYAs with cancer. The results of the here described app prototype will be evaluated in more detail in the near future. However, this description of the cocreation process in app development can be utilized for the creation of other mHealth interventions.

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  • Internet-based Cognitive Therapy for Social Anxiety Disorder in Hong Kong: Therapist training and dissemination case series

    Date Submitted: Jan 20, 2019

    Open Peer Review Period: Jan 21, 2019 - Mar 18, 2019

    Background: Guided internet-based psychological interventions show substantial promise for expanding access to evidence-based mental healthcare. However, this can only be achieved if results of tightl...

    Background: Guided internet-based psychological interventions show substantial promise for expanding access to evidence-based mental healthcare. However, this can only be achieved if results of tightly-controlled studies from the treatment developers can also be achieved in other independent settings. This dissemination depends critically on developing efficient and effective ways to train professionals to deliver these interventions. Unfortunately, descriptions of therapist training and its evaluation are often limited or absent within dissemination studies. Objective: To describe and evaluate a programme of therapist training to deliver internet-based Cognitive Therapy for Social Anxiety Disorder (iCT-SAD). As this treatment was developed in the UK, and this study was conducted in Hong Kong with local therapists, an additional objective was to examine the feasibility, acceptability, and initial efficacy of iCT-SAD in this cultural context, based on data from a pilot case series. Methods: Three therapists received training in iCT-SAD, which included practice of the face-to-face format of therapy under clinical supervision, training workshops, and treating six patients with the iCT-SAD programme. Training progress was evaluated using standardised and self-report measures, and by reviewing patient outcomes. In addition, feedback from patients and therapists was sought regarding the feasibility and acceptability of the programme. Results: The training programme was effective at increasing therapists’ iCT-SAD knowledge and skills, resulting in levels of competence suitable for that of a therapist in a clinical trial. The six patients treated by the trainees all completed their treatment and achieved a mean pre- to post-treatment change of 53.8 points (SD = 39.5) on the primary outcome measure, the Liebowitz Social Anxiety Scale. The within-group effect size (Cohens d) was 2.06 (95%CI 0.66, 3.46). There was evidence to suggest the patients’ clinical outcomes were sustained at three-month follow-up. These clinical results are comparable to those achieved by UK patients treated by the developers of the internet programme. Patient and therapist feedback did not identify any major cultural barriers to implementing iCT-SAD in Hong Kong; some modest language suggestions were made to assist understanding. Conclusions: The therapist training implemented here facilitated the successful dissemination of an effective UK-developed internet intervention to Hong Kong. The treatment appeared feasible and acceptable in this setting, and showed highly promising initial efficacy. A randomised controlled trial is now required to examine this more robustly. As therapist training is critical to the successful dissemination of internet interventions, further work to develop, describe, and evaluate therapist training procedures is recommended.

  • Web-based interventions aimed at improving the mental health effects of home caregivers for dementia: Meta-analysis

    Date Submitted: Jan 16, 2019

    Open Peer Review Period: Jan 16, 2019 - Mar 13, 2019

    Background: Dementia is one of the major cause of disability and dependency among the elderly worldwide, and there are general psychological distresses among caregivers in dementia, such as depression...

    Background: Dementia is one of the major cause of disability and dependency among the elderly worldwide, and there are general psychological distresses among caregivers in dementia, such as depression and anxiety symptoms. The physical and mental health of the caregiver is a prerequisite and a promise to help the elderly stay alive and promote health. Web-based interventions can provide for a more convenient and efficient support and education, Objective: The purpose of this study was to examine the effect of internet-based interventions on mental health outcomes of family caregivers with dementia, and exploring which components of the web-based interventions play an important role.which are likely to reduce caregivers’ negative outcomes associated with care. Methods: A comprehensive literature search was conducted on PubMed, Embase, PsycINFO, Cochrane Database and CINAHL by using relevant terms such as web-based and caregiver as keywords, covering all studies published before June 2018. Two reviewers independently reviewed all published abstracts, according to the established inclusion and exclusion criteria ,we extracted the information about participants, interventions and results, respectively, and reviewed the quality of articles on the methods of randomized trials using the approach recommended by the Cochrane Handbook for systematic review for intervention. Results: A total of 815 caregivers participated in 6 articles, and 4 of the studies use depression as an outcome, according to the research after different interventions based on network after the intervention, depression scores average drop of 0.23 (95%CI -0.38 to -0.07, p<0.01), 2 studies show caregivers anxiety symptoms, the average score for anxiety dropped by 0.32 points (95% CI -0.50 to -0.14, p< 0.01), but in terms of coping, pain and stress, the web-based interventions have shown a poor effect. On the whole, the addition of professional psychological support on the basis of education can improve mental health of carers. Conclusions: Internet-based interventions were generally effective in reducing anxiety and depression in dementia carers, although negative results were found in some studies. But in terms of burden and stress, further research is needed.

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