(USA)

A new study has demonstrated that a smartphone app can play an important role in supporting older people who are suffering from mental illness.

Developed by a team from Dartmouth College, to help individuals manage their illness, the app was used by a test group for three months. Over 10 sessions patients touched on areas including stress, medication intake and illness. Medical professionals were also able to monitor levels of interaction with the app and intervene with support when required.

“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. 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. 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,”  explained lead investigator, Dartmouth’s Dr Karen Fortuna.

And the feedback from users, who averaged 55 years, was overwhelmingly positive. It was judged by participants as being easy to use and helpful in providing meaningful assistacnce.

The findings of the study were reported in a special edition of the American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry.

“While the potential of technology to impact geriatric psychiatry care in this manner has long been recognized, this issue provides substantial evidence to demonstrate that this potential is translating into reality. Simultaneously, it also makes clear that the work is just getting started,” guest editor Dr Ipsit Vahia, from Harvard Medical School, said.