Tech With Peer Support, Clinical Triage Feasible for Psychosis


TUESDAY, May 24, 2022 (HealthDay News) — Digital technology, together with peer support and clinical triage can detect and prevent relapse for patients with schizophrenia, according to a study published in the June issue of The Lancet Psychiatry.

Andrew I. Gumley, Ph.D., from the University of Glasgow in the United Kingdom, and colleagues conducted a multicenter, feasibility randomized controlled trial to compare Early signs Monitoring to Prevent relapse in psychosis and prOmote Well-being, Engagement, and Recovery (EMPOWER) to treatment as usual in community mental health services. EMPOWER includes a smartphone app for active monitoring of early warning signs, peer support to promote self-management, and clinical triage to promote access to relapse prevention.

Overall, 73 individuals were randomly assigned as follows: 42 to EMPOWER and 31 to treatment as usual. The researchers found that 71 percent of those randomly assigned to EMPOWER met the a priori criteria of more than 33 percent adherence to daily monitoring that assumed feasibility. In these participants, the median time to discontinuation was 31.5 weeks. Overall, there were 29 and 25 adverse events reported in the EMPOWER and treatment-as-usual groups, respectively. Thirteen app-related adverse events occurred, affecting 11 people; one of these adverse events was serious. At 12 months, the EMPOWER group had lower fear of relapse.

“We believe that it will be possible to refine and improve the intervention, most notably in relation to peer worker practices, as well as functions and technical features of the app,” the authors write. “Importantly, intervention developments should closely involve people with experiences of psychosis in the process.”

One author disclosed financial ties to the medical technology industry; a second author disclosed ties to the pharmaceutical industry.

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