Characterizing use of a multicomponent digital intervention to predict treatment outcomes in first-episode psychosis: Cluster analysis

Shaunagh O'Sullivan, Lianne Schmaal, Simon D'Alfonso, Yara Jo Toenders, Lee Valentine, Carla McEnery, Sarah Bendall, Barnaby Nelson, John F Gleeson, Mario Alvarez-Jimenez

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Background: Multicomponent digital interventions offer the potential for tailored and flexible interventions that aim to address high attrition rates and increase engagement, an area of concern in digital mental health. However, increased flexibility in use makes it difficult to determine which components lead to improved treatment outcomes. Objective: This study aims to identify user profiles on Horyzons, an 18-month digital relapse prevention intervention for first-episode psychosis that incorporates therapeutic content and social networking, along with clinical, vocational, and peer support, and to examine the predictive value of these user profiles for treatment outcomes. A secondary objective is to compare each user profile with young people receiving treatment as usual (TAU). Methods: Participants comprised 82 young people (aged 16-27 years) with access to Horyzons and 84 receiving TAU, recovering from first-episode psychosis. In addition, 6-month use data from the therapy and social networking components of Horyzons were used as features for K-means clustering for joint trajectories to identify user profiles. Social functioning, psychotic symptoms, depression, and anxiety were assessed at baseline and 6-month follow-up. General linear mixed models were used to examine the predictive value of user profiles for treatment outcomes and between each user profile with TAU. Results: A total of 3 user profiles were identified based on the following system use metrics: low use, maintained use of social components, and maintained use of both therapy and social components. The maintained therapy and social group showed improvements in social functioning (F 2,51=3.58; P=.04), negative symptoms (F 2,51=4.45; P=.02), and overall psychiatric symptom severity (F 2,50=3.23; P=.048) compared with the other user profiles. This group also showed improvements in social functioning (F 1,62=4.68; P=.03), negative symptoms (F 1,62=14.61; P<.001), and overall psychiatric symptom severity (F 1,63=5.66; P=.02) compared with the TAU group. Conversely, the maintained social group showed increases in anxiety compared with the TAU group (F 1,57=7.65; P=.008). No differences were found between the low use group and the TAU group on treatment outcomes. Conclusions: Continued engagement with both therapy and social components might be key in achieving long-term recovery. Maintained social use and low use outcomes were broadly comparable with TAU, emphasizing the importance of maintaining engagement for improved treatment outcomes. Although the social network may be a key ingredient to increase sustained engagement, as users engaged with this more consistently, it should be leveraged as a tool to engage young people with therapeutic content to bring about social and clinical benefits.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere29211
JournalJMIR Mental Health
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 7 Apr 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors would like to thank the young people who participated in the Horyzons study and agreed to share their data for research purposes. The study was funded by the Mental Illness Research Fund (Victorian Government, Australia), the Australian National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC), and the Telstra Foundation. MAJ was supported by an Investigator Grant (APP1177235) from the NHMRC. LS was supported by an NHMRC Career Development Fellowship (1140764). SB was supported by the Ronald Philip Griffiths Fellowship. BN was supported by an NHMRC Senior Research Fellowship (1137687).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 by the authors.


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