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      Technology-Enabled Mental Health Service Reform for Open Arms – Veterans and Families Counselling: Participatory Design Study

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      JMIR Formative Research

      JMIR Publications Inc.

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          Abstract

          Background

          The impact of mental ill-health on every aspect of the lives of a large number of Australian Defence Force (ADF) personnel, their partners, and their families is widely recognized. Recent Senate inquiries have highlighted gaps in service delivery as well as the need for service reform to ensure appropriate care options for individuals who are currently engaged with mental health and support services as well as for those who, for a variety of reasons, have not sought help. To that end, successive Australian governments generally and the Department of Veterans’ Affairs specifically have prioritized veteran-centric reform. Open Arms is an Australia-wide service that provides counseling and support to current and former ADF personnel, and their family members, for mental health conditions.

          Objective

          The aim of this study was to develop and configure a prototypic Web-based platform for Open Arms – Veterans & Families Counselling (formerly Veterans and Veterans Families Counselling Service) with the Open Arms community to enhance the quality of mental health services provided by Open Arms.

          Methods

          The study aimed to recruit up to 100 people from the Open Arms community (current and former ADF personnel and their families, health professionals, service managers, and administrators) in regions of New South Wales, including Sydney, Canberra, Maitland, Singleton, and Port Stephens. Participants were invited to participate in 4-hour participatory design workshops. A variety of methods were used within the workshops, including prompted discussion, review of working prototypes, creation of descriptive artifacts, and group-based development of user journeys.

          Results

          Seven participatory design workshops were held, including a total of 49 participants. Participants highlighted that the prototype has the potential to (1) provide the opportunity for greater and better-informed personal choice in relation to options for care based on the level of need and personal preferences; (2) ensure transparency in care by providing the individual with access to all of their personal health information; and (3) improve collaborative care and care continuity by allowing information to be shared securely with current and future providers.

          Conclusions

          Our findings highlight the value of actively engaging stakeholders in participatory design processes for the development and configuration of new technologies.

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          Most cited references 6

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          Community-based participatory research as a tool to advance environmental health sciences.

          The past two decades have witnessed a rapid proliferation of community-based participatory research (CBPR) projects. CBPR methodology presents an alternative to traditional population-based biomedical research practices by encouraging active and equal partnerships between community members and academic investigators. The National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS), the premier biomedical research facility for environmental health, is a leader in promoting the use of CBPR in instances where community-university partnerships serve to advance our understanding of environmentally related disease. In this article, the authors highlight six key principles of CBPR and describe how these principles are met within specific NIEHS-supported research investigations. These projects demonstrate that community-based participatory research can be an effective tool to enhance our knowledge of the causes and mechanisms of disorders having an environmental etiology, reduce adverse health outcomes through innovative intervention strategies and policy change, and address the environmental health concerns of community residents.
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            Knowledge translation in global health.

            We discuss the "know-do gap," present a definition of knowledge translation, and discuss its relative importance in bridging the know-do gap. Some of the underlying causes of the know-do gap are listed, along with ongoing efforts to address them. Knowledge translation is considered a cross-cutting, nonlinear process that involves not only recent research findings but also knowledge that is created from the dynamic interaction of people who come together to solve public health problems, to learn, and ultimately to drive productive change. We also mention some of the activities undertaken by the World Health Organization in regards to knowledge translation. The search strategy has been nonsystematic, and reference is made to selected sources only.
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              Is Open Access

              Developing a Mental Health eClinic to Improve Access to and Quality of Mental Health Care for Young People: Using Participatory Design as Research Methodologies

              Background Each year, many young Australians aged between 16 and 25 years experience a mental health disorder, yet only a small proportion access services and even fewer receive timely and evidence-based treatments. Today, with ever-increasing access to the Internet and use of technology, the potential to provide all young people with access (24 hours a day, 7 days a week) to the support they require to improve their mental health and well-being is promising. Objective The aim of this study was to use participatory design (PD) as research methodologies with end users (young people aged between 16 and 25 years and youth health professionals) and our research team to develop the Mental Health eClinic (a Web-based mental health clinic) to improve timely access to, and better quality, mental health care for young people across Australia. Methods A research and development (R&D) cycle for the codesign and build of the Mental Health eClinic included several iterative PD phases: PD workshops; translation of knowledge and ideas generated during workshops to produce mockups of webpages either as hand-drawn sketches or as wireframes (simple layout of a webpage before visual design and content is added); rapid prototyping; and one-on-one consultations with end users to assess the usability of the alpha build of the Mental Health eClinic. Results Four PD workshops were held with 28 end users (young people n=18, youth health professionals n=10) and our research team (n=8). Each PD workshop was followed by a knowledge translation session. At the conclusion of this cycle, the alpha prototype was built, and one round of one-on-one end user consultation sessions was conducted (n=6; all new participants, young people n=4, youth health professionals n=2). The R&D cycle revealed the importance of five key components for the Mental Health eClinic: a home page with a visible triage system for those requiring urgent help; a comprehensive online physical and mental health assessment; a detailed dashboard of results; a booking and videoconferencing system to enable video visits; and the generation of a personalized well-being plan that includes links to evidence-based, and health professional–recommended, apps and etools. Conclusions The Mental Health eClinic provides health promotion, triage protocols, screening, assessment, a video visit system, the development of personalized well-being plans, and self-directed mental health support for young people. It presents a technologically advanced and clinically efficient system that can be adapted to suit a variety of settings in which there is an opportunity to connect with young people. This will enable all young people, and especially those currently not able or willing to connect with face-to-face services, to receive best practice clinical services by breaking down traditional barriers to care and making health care more personalized, accessible, affordable, and available.
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                Author and article information

                Journal
                JMIR Formative Research
                JMIR Form Res
                JMIR Publications Inc.
                2561-326X
                2019
                September 19 2019
                : 3
                : 3
                : e13662
                Article
                10.2196/13662
                © 2019
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