Results Summary and Professional Abstract
Does Telehealth Improve Outcomes for Patients with Serious Mental Illness?
On November 1, 2018, Dror Ben-Zeev, PhD, participated in a PCORI Facebook Live session for a conversation about how telehealth may help improve outcomes for patients living with serious mental illness. Mark Ishaug, MA, a study stakeholder partner, also participated in the session.
Peer review of PCORI-funded research helps make sure the report presents complete, balanced, and useful information about the research. It also assesses how the project addressed PCORI’s Methodology Standards. During peer review, experts read a draft report of the research and provide comments about the report. These experts may include a scientist focused on the research topic, a specialist in research methods, a patient or caregiver, and a healthcare professional. These reviewers cannot have conflicts of interest with the study.
The peer reviewers point out where the draft report may need revision. For example, they may suggest ways to improve descriptions of the conduct of the study or to clarify the connection between results and conclusions. Sometimes, awardees revise their draft reports twice or more to address all of the reviewers’ comments.
Peer reviewers commented, and the researchers made changes or provided responses. Those comments and responses included the following:
- Reviewers pointed out that the researchers could not establish that the new intervention, FOCUS, was in fact beneficial because the study had been designed as a head-to-head comparison. The researchers added a study limitation indicating that because they tested FOCUS against another intervention rather than against no treatment or usual care, the advantages seen in FOCUS outcomes could potentially be artifacts of time passing or other unmeasured events.
- Reviewers expressed concern that the study sample could be biased because study staff recruited only those patients who reached out to them, rather than trying to recruit all patients at the target clinics. The researchers acknowledged that this could lead to a more-activated, engaged study sample but noted that because of clinic restrictions they were unable to approach potential participants directly. They further noted that this problem is common in research in the real world.
- Reviewers noted several differences between the two interventions under study other than the mobile health component that was a feature of the FOCUS intervention. The researchers acknowledged this, stating that they could only speculate about whether the mobile health feature of FOCUS led to any outcome differences. The reason researchers did not use a comparator intervention that was more similar to FOCUS except for the mobile health component was that they wanted to compare FOCUS to an intervention that was evidence based and widely used.
Conflict of Interest Disclosures
View the COI disclosure form.
^Dror Ben-Zeev, PhD was affiliated with Dartmouth College in New Hampshire when this project was initially awarded.