ARTICLE | doi:10.20944/preprints202302.0017.v1
Subject: Social Sciences, Psychology Keywords: Digital Mental Health; deprivation; service activity; Mental health concerns; ethnicity; time-series analysis; Covid-19; Text-based online therapy
Online: 2 February 2023 (01:30:05 CET)
The adoption of digital health technologies accelerated during Covid-19, with concerns over the equity of access due to digital exclusion. Using data from a text-based online mental health service for children and young people we explore the impact of the pandemic on service access and presenting concerns and whether differences were observed by sociodemographic characteristics in terms of access (gender, ethnicity and deprivation). We used interrupted time-series models to assess whether there was a change in the level and rate of service use during the Covid-19 pandemic (April 2020-April 2021) compared to pre-pandemic trends (June 2019-March 2020). Routinely collected data from 61221 service users were extracted for observation, those represented half of the service population as only those with consent to share their data were used. The majority of users identified as female (74%) and White (80%), with an age range between 13 and 20 years of age,. There was evidence of a sudden increase (13%) in service access at the start of the pandemic (RR 1.13 95% CI 1.02, 1.25), followed by a reduced rate (from 25% to 21%) of engagement during the pandemic compared to pre-pandemic trends (RR 0.97 95% CI 0.95,0.98). There was a sudden increase in almost all presenting issues apart from physical complaints. There was evidence of a step increase in the number of contacts for Black/African/Caribbean/Black British (38% increase; 95% CI: 1%-90%) and White ethnic groups (14% increase; 95% CI: 2%-27%) ), the sudden increase in service use at the start of the pandemic for the most (58% increase; 95% CI: 1%-247%) and least (47% increase; 95% CI: 6%-204%) deprived areas. During the pandemic, contact rates decreased, and referral sources change at the start. Findings on access and service activity align with other studies observing reduced service utilisation. The lack of differences in deprivation levels and ethnicity at lockdown suggests exploring equity of access to the anonymous service. The study provides unique insights into changes in digital mental health use during Covid-19 in the UK.
ARTICLE | doi:10.20944/preprints202112.0519.v1
Subject: Social Sciences, Psychology Keywords: Digital Mental Health community; Peer Online Community; Experience measure; Forums; User testing; Quality of Care; Measure design and development; Peer support; Affinity maps
Online: 31 December 2021 (12:34:46 CET)
Online digital mental health communities can contribute to users’ mental health positively and negatively. Yet the measurement of outcomes and impact relating to digital mental health communities is difficult to capture. In this paper we demonstrate the development of an online experience measure for a specific children and young people’s community inside a digital mental health service. The development is informed by three phases: (i) item reduction through Estimate-Talk-Estimate modified Delphi methods, (ii) user testing with participatory action research and (iii) a pilot within the digital service community to explore its use. Rounds of experts talks help to reduce the items. User experience workshops helped to inform the usability and appearance, wording, and purpose of the measure. Finally, the pilot results highlight completion rates, difference in scores for age and community roles and a preference to ‘relate to others’; as a mechanism of support. Outcomes frequently selected in the measure show the importance of certain aspects of the community, such as safety, connection, and non-judgment previously highlighted in the literature. Self-reported helpfulness scales like this one could be used as indicators of meaningful engagement within the community and its content but further research is required to ascertain its acceptability and validity. Phased approaches involving stakeholders and participatory action research enhances the development of digitally enabled measurement tools.