Patients with severe mental illness such as schizophrenia may have issues in receiving appropriate health-care services due to the higher level of clinical resources needed to address their impairment and support inclusion in society. A new text message–based communication system could foster recovery care and better systematically capture information suggestive of urgent care needs, according to a report published in BMC Psychiatry.

With this study, researchers assessed the feasibility, acceptability, and potential clinical benefits of a mobile technology health management tool to enhance community care for people with severe mental illness. The randomized controlled feasibility pilot study included mixed quantitative and qualitative methodologies to capture measures of quality of life, self-management skills, and medication adherence.

The intervention involved a simple, interactive, text message–based communication system called “Florence” with three components: medication and appointment reminders, daily individually defined wellbeing scores, and optional requests for additional support.

The study included patients who had been diagnosed with schizophrenia, schizoaffective disorder, or bipolar disorder at least one year prior. Patients were randomized to receive either treatment-as-usual (n = 29) or treatment-as-usual and the technology-assisted intervention (n = 36).

Preliminary results from this analysis suggest that the health technology tool appeared to offer a “practicable and acceptable intervention” that allowed patients with severe mental illness to manage their condition. Data also revealed that the intervention was feasible, with high engagement rates. In interviews, participants recommended further personalization of the intervention. Individually defined wellbeing scores were found to be highly predictive of recovery outcomes and could, therefor, guide the allocation of routine care resources, the authors added.

“It is feasible to conduct an adequately powered full trial to evaluate this intervention,” the researchers concluded. “Inclusion criteria should be revised to include patients with a higher level of need and clinicians should receive more in-depth assistance in managing the tools effectively.”

Source: BMC Psychiatry