We are here for the long haul: Novel Social Media and Mobile Technologies for Long-term recovery in First Episode Psychosis (The Horyzons project)

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. Objectives: The aim of this study is to answer the important question of whether the clinical benefits of specialised FEP programmes can be extended into long-term improvements through the use of a world-first, online psychosocial intervention. Methods: Our multi-disciplinary team has developed a highly novel online intervention (HORYZONS) in constant consultation with end-users over a 5-year period. HORYZONS uniquely integrates: i) peer-to-peer social networking, ii) individually tailored therapeutic interventions, iii) expert and peer-moderation, and iv) a positive psychology framework in a coherent platform designed to improve long-term outcomes in FEP. The acceptability, safety and initial clinical benefits of HORYZONS were recently demonstrated through a 1-month pilot study with 20 FEP participants. Results: System usage was high during the pilot study. There were no incidents and participants reported feeling safe (100%), empowered (55%) and more socially connected (60%). Analysis revealed a moderate to large reduction (d=0.60) in depression scores at follow-up. Activity within the social network predicted a reduction in depression scores. Conclusions: HORYZONS is engaging and safe, may reduce depression and augment social connectedness in FEP. The potential of HORYZONS to improve long-term recovery in FEP is currently being evaluated through a large Clinical Trial (40 participants randomized so far). During the presentation we will showcase HORYZONS as well as cutting-edge data analytic strategies to monitor and moderate online social interactions between FEP participants.

Conference Name: 
Presentation Date: 
January, 2015
Additional Authors: 
Sarah Bendal - Wadley Greg - Chinnery Gina - Thurley Melissa - Cagliarini Daniela - Cooke Melanie - Alexander Dylan - Barclay Nerida - Killackey Eoin - McGorry Patrick - Gleeson John
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