Nav: Home

Smartphone app effective for serious mental illness treatment

May 25, 2018

A smartphone app was just as effective in treating people with serious mental illnesses as a clinical intervention - and it had a significantly better rate of treatment engagement, according to a study published today in the journal Psychiatric Services.

In the study of 163 patients, 90 percent of those assigned to the smartphone app used it at least once, while 58 percent of those assigned to the clinic treatment went to at least one group therapy session.

"This study shows that we may lose close to half of our patients when we ask them to come to a clinic," said lead author Dror Ben Zeev, a professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at the University of Washington School of Medicine. "This mobile approach was not only more accessible to them, clinically it was as helpful as group sessions conducted in person."

The biggest advantage for most patients is convenience - mental healthcare whenever and wherever they needed it.

The authors said it was the first randomized controlled trial that they know of to examine a smartphone intervention's value for people with schizophrenia spectrum-disorders.

The app, called Focus, addressed auditory hallucinations ("hearing voices"), mood problems, sleep, social-functioning problems, and medication use.

Among the 163 participants, 49 percent had schizophrenia or schizoaffective disorder, 28 percent had bipolar disorder, and 23 percent had major depressive disorder.

On average, the participants were 49 years old, 59 percent male and 65 percent African-American.

The study found that significantly more participants fully completed eight weeks or more using the mobile app (56 percent) than the clinic-based program (40 percent.)

Participants gave high satisfaction ratings of both interventions, saying both were approachable, enjoyable and helped them feel better.

The trial was conducted between June 2015 and September 2017 in partnership with Thresholds, an agency that provides services to Illinois residents with serious mental illness. Interventions were provided for 12 weeks. Assessments were conducted at three months and six months.

Participants were considered engaged if they used the app five of seven days and if they attended at least 60 minutes of the 90-minute group intervention at least once a week or completed a makeup session.

Serious mental illnesses affect approximately 4 percent of the population. With appropriate supports, people with serious mental illness can lead rewarding and productive lives, the researchers wrote.

But when individuals need illness-management the most, they often avoid getting help at a clinic because of their fear of being labeled mentally ill and stigmatized, or because of difficulty getting to a clinic.

The study supports the notion that mobile health can play an important role in 21st-century healthcare, the authors said.

University of Washington Health Sciences/UW Medicine

Related Schizophrenia Articles:

Dietary supplement may help with schizophrenia
A dietary supplement, sarcosine, may help with schizophrenia as part of a holistic approach complementing antipsychotic medication, according to a UCL researcher.
Schizophrenia: Adolescence is the game-changer
Schizophrenia may be related to the deletion syndrome. However, not everyone who has the syndrome necessarily develops psychotic symptoms.
Study suggests overdiagnosis of schizophrenia
In a small study of patients referred to the Johns Hopkins Early Psychosis Intervention Clinic (EPIC), Johns Hopkins Medicine researchers report that about half the people referred to the clinic with a schizophrenia diagnosis didn't actually have schizophrenia.
The ways of wisdom in schizophrenia
Researchers at UC San Diego School of Medicine report that persons with schizophrenia scored lower on a wisdom assessment than non-psychiatric comparison participants, but that there was considerable variability in levels of wisdom, and those with higher scores displayed fewer psychotic symptoms.
Recognizing the uniqueness of different individuals with schizophrenia
Individuals diagnosed with schizophrenia differ greatly from one another. Researchers from Radboud university medical center, along with colleagues from England and Norway, have demonstrated that very few identical brain differences are shared amongst different patients.
Resynchronizing neurons to erase schizophrenia
Today, a decisive step in understanding schizophrenia has been taken.
Genetics researchers close in on schizophrenia
Researchers at the MRC Centre for Neuropsychiatric Genetics and Genomics at Cardiff University have discovered 50 new gene regions that increase the risk of developing schizophrenia.
Looking for the origins of schizophrenia
Schizophrenia may be related to neurodevelopment changes, including brain's inability to create the appropriate vascular system, according to new study resulted from a partnership between the D'Or Institute for Research and Education, the University of Chile and the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro (UFRJ).
Researchers uncover novel mechanism behind schizophrenia
An international team of researchers led by a Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine scientist has uncovered a novel mechanism in which a protein--neuregulin 3--controls how key neurotransmitters are released in the brain during schizophrenia.
A new genetic marker for schizophrenia
Japanese scientists find a rare genetic variant that shows strong association with schizophrenia.
More Schizophrenia News and Schizophrenia Current Events

Top Science Podcasts

We have hand picked the top science podcasts of 2019.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Why do we revere risk-takers, even when their actions terrify us? Why are some better at taking risks than others? This hour, TED speakers explore the alluring, dangerous, and calculated sides of risk. Guests include professional rock climber Alex Honnold, economist Mariana Mazzucato, psychology researcher Kashfia Rahman, structural engineer and bridge designer Ian Firth, and risk intelligence expert Dylan Evans.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#541 Wayfinding
These days when we want to know where we are or how to get where we want to go, most of us will pull out a smart phone with a built-in GPS and map app. Some of us old timers might still use an old school paper map from time to time. But we didn't always used to lean so heavily on maps and technology, and in some remote places of the world some people still navigate and wayfind their way without the aid of these tools... and in some cases do better without them. This week, host Rachelle Saunders...
Now Playing: Radiolab

Dolly Parton's America: Neon Moss
Today on Radiolab, we're bringing you the fourth episode of Jad's special series, Dolly Parton's America. In this episode, Jad goes back up the mountain to visit Dolly's actual Tennessee mountain home, where she tells stories about her first trips out of the holler. Back on the mountaintop, standing under the rain by the Little Pigeon River, the trip triggers memories of Jad's first visit to his father's childhood home, and opens the gateway to dizzying stories of music and migration. Support Radiolab today at