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Phone app shows promising results for patients with psychosis

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20 March 2018

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A phone app has shown promising results for people suffering from early psychosis, a study has revealed.

Smartphone app Actissist, designed by researchers at the University of Manchester, improved the mood and psychotic symptoms of the majority of patients who tried it, according to lead author of the study Dr Sandra Bucci.

A phone app has shown promising results for people suffering from early psychosis, a study has revealed.

Smartphone app Actissist, designed by researchers at the University of Manchester, improved the mood and psychotic symptoms of the majority of patients who tried it, according to lead author of the study Dr Sandra Bucci.

Overall, out of 36 participants, 72% completed assessments, while 83% successfully followed up after 12 weeks – the end of the trial­ – and 22 weeks.

Dr Bucci continued: ‘The potential benefit of an app for psychosis is that people are able to access help and support at any time and in any place unlike traditional support options.’

How does it work?

Actissist focuses on areas people with early psychosis often have difficulty with such as perceived criticism from others, getting out and about, cannabis use, paranoia and distress caused by paranoia or hearing voices.

The app allows them to choose an aspect of their mental health they would like to work on by completing a series of questions.

It then sends them messages and tips, which suggest solutions to cope with any experiences they might find distressing.

Patients can also accessed information through videos, links to websites and factsheets as well as mindfulness and relaxation exercises and a diary. It also features a graphic of any changes in their psychotic experiences.

Cost of psychosis

According to mental health charity Rethink, psychosis costs an estimated £11.8bn a year.

The researchers argued that timely intervention in psychosis is ‘problematic’.

They said: ‘As such, health care providers are forming digital strategies for addressing mental health challenges.

‘A theory-driven digital intervention that monitors distressing experiences and provides real-time active management strategies could improve the speed and quality of recovery in psychosis, over and above conventional treatments.’

Conventional treatments usually include antipsychotics medication, psychological therapies and social support. 

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