Project Summary

PCORI implementation projects promote the use of findings from PCORI-funded studies in real-world healthcare and other settings. These projects build toward broad use of evidence to inform healthcare decisions.

This PCORI-funded implementation project is making a smartphone-based self-management program—shown to encourage treatment and improve symptoms for patients with serious mental illness—part of regular care at clinics.

About 4% of people have serious mental illnesses, or SMI. Self-management programs at mental health clinics can help people with SMI manage their symptoms and improve their health. But it can be hard for people with SMI to get to the clinic to take part in these programs.

What is the goal of this implementation project?

Smartphone programs are a way for people with SMI to manage their care and communicate with mental health professionals away from the clinic. A PCORI funded research study found that a smartphone program helped people with SMI manage symptoms just as well as an in-person program. People who used the smartphone program were more likely to start treatment than patients who attended the in-person program. They were also just as likely to stay in treatment once they started.

This project is making the smartphone program part of regular care at three community mental health agencies. It will help people with SMI manage their symptoms without needing to attend an in-person program.

What will this project do?

The project team is working with 12 mental health clinics across two agencies in New Hampshire and one agency in Missouri to make the program part of regular care.

In the program, people with SMI are receiving a smartphone app. Through the app, they are getting daily reminders to answer questions about their symptoms and functioning. To help them manage their symptoms, they can access written, video, and audio information. The app also makes patients’ responses available to the clinic. A mental health support specialist calls patients weekly to talk about their symptoms and to be sure they are comfortable using the app.

To put the program in place, the project team is:

  • Making training available to agency staff who will serve as support specialists for the smartphone program
  • Providing training for agency clinical staff and supervisors
  • Identifying champions at each clinic to promote the use of the program
  • Providing feedback to clinics on referrals to and use of the program

The project team is also updating the training materials during the project and making them available to other clinics that are interested in using the smartphone program.

What is the expected impact of this project?

The project will show what’s required to make the program part of regular care at mental health agencies. About 4,800 people with SMI will receive the smartphone program. The project evaluation will confirm that the program is working as intended to help people with SMI manage their symptoms.

More about this implementation project:

Stakeholders Involved in This Project

  • The Mental Health Center of Greater Manchester
  • Community Partners New Hampshire
  • Places for People in St. Louis County Mental Health Technology Transfer Center (MHTTC)
  • New Hampshire chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness
  • St. Louis chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness
  • St. Louis Empowerment Center of Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance
  • New Hampshire Community Behavioral Health Association

Implementation Strategies

  • Adapt in-person training and education materials to be delivered remotely using an interactive learning management system.
  • Adapt a clinician-facing dashboard to work with sites’ existing resources and workflows.
  • Provide sites with tools to support implementation, including discussion guides and checklists for clinicians.
  • Create and support local implementation teams at sites.
  • Provide educational materials to patients through smartphone program.
  • Train clinicians and clinic staff to use the program, through online modules
  • Provide support specialists with audit and feedback reports.
  • Identify and prepare champions at sites.
  • Provide technical assistance to sites, including practice facilitation and consultation.
  • Partner with national stakeholder organizations to develop plans for further program scaleup.
  • Develop training package to support further use of the program at other sites.

Evaluation Outcomes

To document implementation:

  • Number of people with SMI who enroll in the smartphone program
  • Patient use of the smartphone program (minutes per week of dashboard use)
  • Staff acceptability
  • Agency staff assessments of appropriateness and feasibility
  • Adoption
  • Fidelity of program delivery (checklist, observation)

To assess healthcare and health outcomes:

  • Patient-reported general psychopathology, auditory hallucinations, and depression
  • Patient-reported recovery and quality of life
  • Patient satisfaction with care

Project Information

Dror Ben-Zeev, PhD
University of Washington
$1,815,424
Technology-Assisted Implementation of a Mobile Health Intervention for Serious Mental Illness

Key Dates

July 2022
September 2025
2022

Initial PCORI-Funded Research Study

This implementation project focuses on putting findings into practice from this completed PCORI-funded research study: Comparing a Smartphone Program with a Peer-Led Program to Help People with Serious Mental Illness Manage Their Symptoms

Tags

Health Conditions Health Conditions These are the broad terms we use to categorize our funded research studies; specific diseases or conditions are included within the appropriate larger category. Note: not all of our funded projects focus on a single disease or condition; some touch on multiple diseases or conditions, research methods, or broader health system interventions. Such projects won’t be listed by a primary disease/condition and so won’t appear if you use this filter tool to find them. View Glossary
State State The state where the project originates, or where the primary institution or organization is located. View Glossary
Last updated: March 15, 2024