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Digital health technology for use in patients with serious mental illness: a systematic review of the literature

Authors Batra S, Baker RA, Wang T, Forma F, DiBiasi F, Peters-Strickland T

Received 16 June 2017

Accepted for publication 15 August 2017

Published 4 October 2017 Volume 2017:10 Pages 237—251


Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single anonymous peer review

Peer reviewer comments 2

Editor who approved publication: Dr Scott Fraser

Sonal Batra,1 Ross A Baker,2 Tao Wang,3 Felicia Forma,4 Faith DiBiasi,3 Timothy Peters-Strickland5

1Department of Psychiatry, Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, Piscataway, 2Global Medical Affairs, Otsuka Pharmaceutical Development and Commercialization Inc., Princeton, NJ, 3Medical Affairs, Otsuka Pharmaceutical Development and Commercialization Inc., Rockville, MD, 4Health Economics and Outcomes Management, 5Global Clinical Development, Otsuka Pharmaceutical Development and Commercialization Inc., Princeton, NJ, USA

Background: As the capabilities and reach of technology have expanded, there is an accompanying proliferation of digital technologies developed for use in the care of patients with mental illness. The objective of this review was to systematically search published literature to identify currently available health technologies and their intended uses for patients with serious mental illness.
Materials and methods: The Medline, Embase, and BIOSIS Previews electronic databases were searched to identify peer-reviewed English language articles that reported the use of digital, mobile, and other advanced technology in patients with schizophrenia/schizoaffective disorder, bipolar disorder, and major depressive disorder. Eligible studies were systematically reviewed based on Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses (PRISMA) guidelines.
Results: Eighteen studies that met the inclusion criteria were identified. Digital health technologies (DHTs) assessed in the selected studies included mobile applications (apps), digital medicine, digital personal health records, and an electronic pill container. Smartphone apps accounted for the largest share of DHTs. The intended uses of DHTs could be broadly classified as monitoring to gain a better understanding of illness, clinical assessment, and intervention. Overall, studies indicated high usability/feasibility and efficacy/effectiveness, with several reporting validity against established clinical scales. Users were generally engaged with the DHT, and mobile assessments were deemed helpful in monitoring disease symptoms.
Conclusion: Rapidly proliferating digital technologies seem to be feasible for short-term use in patients with serious mental illness; nevertheless, long-term effectiveness data from naturalistic studies will help demonstrate their usefulness and facilitate their adoption and integration into the mental health-care system.

Keywords: serious mental illness, health technology, mHealth, smartphone applications, digital medicine

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