Scientists have developed a smartphone app to help middle-aged and older adults self- manage their mental illness and other chronic conditions. The app takes patients through 10 sessions over a period of about three months, covering topics such as stress vulnerability and illness, medication adherence and strategies, and substance and medication abuse. Physicians can remotely monitor app use, and intervene when problems are detected, facilitating telemedicine for less accessible populations. Researchers at Dartmouth College in the US tested the app's usability.
They found that 10 participants (mean age of 55.3 years) with serious mental illness and other chronic health conditions reported a high level of usability and satisfaction with the smartphone application. They found that even patients with limited technical abilities could use the app successfully. "The use of mobile health interventions by adults with serious mental illness is a promising approach that has been shown to be highly feasible and acceptable," said Karen Fortuna from Dartmouth College. These technologies are associated with many advantages compared with traditional psychosocial interventions, including the potential for individually tailored, just-in- time delivery along with wide dissemination and high population impact, researchers said. The process of adapting an existing psychosocial intervention to a smartphone intervention requires adaptation for a high-risk group with limited health and technology literacy, they said. "Smartphone applications also potentially facilitate patient engagement in participatory, personalised, and preventative care," Fortuna said. "As the healthcare industry increasingly embraces prevention and illness self-management, it is important for physicians and patients to be actively involved in designing and developing new technologies supporting these approaches," Fortuna added. The study was published in the American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry.