On The Horyzon: Moderated Online Social Therapy For Long-Term Recovery In First Episode Psychosis

Presentation First Author: 
Mario Alvarez-­Jimenez

Background: Early intervention services have demonstrated improved outcomes in first episode psychosis (FEP); however, recent evidence shows that treatment benefits may not be sustainable over time. These findings have resulted in repeated recommendations for the implementation of longer-term treatment programs. An Internet-based intervention specifically designed for FEP patients may provide a cost-effective alternative to prevent loss of treatment benefits from early intervention. Methods: Our multi-disciplinary team has developed a highly novel online intervention (HORYZONS) in regular consultation with stakeholders within a specialist early psychosis program. HORYZONS integrates: i) peer-to-peer social networking, ii) individually tailored interactive psychosocial interventions (CBT and lifestyle interventions), and iii) expert interdisciplinary and peer-moderation in a coherent platform designed to improve long-term outcomes in FEP. HORYZONS incorporates a ‘hub’ for different health care professionals (i.e. dieticians, clinical psychologists, employment consultants) to provide cross-disciplinarily health care support. The acceptability, safety and initial clinical benefits of HORYZONS were examined through a pilot study. Results: There were no dropouts during the study. 70% of participants utilised the system for at least 3 weeks, 95% used the social networking features, and 60% completed at least 3 therapy modules. System usage was high during the study. There were no incidents and participants reported feeling safe, empowered and more socially connected using HORYZONS. Analysis revealed a significant reduction in depressive symptoms at follow-up. Conclusions: HORYZONS is feasible, engaging and safe, may augment social connectedness and empowerment, and reduce depression in FEP. These findings have significant implications for the enhancement of specialist FEP services.

Conference Name: 
Presentation Date: 
January, 2013
Additional Authors: 
Mario Alvarez-Jimenez, Sarah Bendall, Reeva Lederman, Greg Wadley, Gina Chinnery, Sonya Vargas, Eoin Killackey, Patrick D McGorry, John F Gleeson
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