Researchers have developed a smartphone app to help middle-aged and older adults self-manage their mental illness and other chronic conditions, suggests new research. First, the researchers determined the technical abilities and needs of middle-aged and older adults with serious mental illnesses using smartphones. The researchers then developed the content and modified an existing smartphone platform. The app takes patients through 10 sessions over a period of approximately three months, covering topics such as stress vulnerability and illness, medication adherence and strategies, and substance and medication abuse, according to the study published in the American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry. Physicians can remotely monitor app use, and intervene when problems are detected, facilitating telemedicine for less accessible populations.
The researchers found that even patients with limited technical abilities could use this 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,” explained lead investigator Karen Fortuna of Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth in the US. “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,” Fortuna said. “Nevertheless, 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,” Fortuna added.