Publications by authors named "Michele Marchesoni"

2 Publications

  • Page 1 of 1

Engagement and Effectiveness of a Healthy-Coping Intervention via Chatbot for University Students During the COVID-19 Pandemic: Mixed Methods Proof-of-Concept Study.

JMIR Mhealth Uhealth 2021 05 28;9(5):e27965. Epub 2021 May 28.

Digital Health Lab, Fondazione Bruno Kessler, Trento, Italy.

Background: University students are increasingly reporting common mental health problems, such as stress, anxiety, and depression, and they frequently face barriers to seeking psychological support because of stigma, cost, and availability of mental health services. This issue is even more critical in the challenging time of the COVID-19 pandemic. Digital mental health interventions, such as those delivered via chatbots on mobile devices, offer the potential to achieve scalability of healthy-coping interventions by lowering cost and supporting prevention.

Objective: The goal of this study was to conduct a proof-of-concept evaluation measuring the engagement and effectiveness of Atena, a psychoeducational chatbot supporting healthy coping with stress and anxiety, among a population of university students.

Methods: In a proof-of-concept study, 71 university students were recruited during the COVID-19 pandemic; 68% (48/71) were female, they were all in their first year of university, and their mean age was 20.6 years (SD 2.4). Enrolled students were asked to use the Atena psychoeducational chatbot for 4 weeks (eight sessions; two per week), which provided healthy-coping strategies based on cognitive behavioral therapy, positive psychology, and mindfulness techniques. The intervention program consisted of conversations combined with audiovisual clips delivered via the Atena chatbot. Participants were asked to complete web-based versions of the 7-item Generalized Anxiety Disorder scale (GAD-7), the 10-item Perceived Stress Scale (PSS-10), and the Five-Facet Mindfulness Questionnaire (FFMQ) at baseline and postintervention to assess effectiveness. They were also asked to complete the User Engagement Scale-Short Form at week 2 to assess engagement with the chatbot and to provide qualitative comments on their overall experience with Atena postintervention.

Results: Participants engaged with the Atena chatbot an average of 78 (SD 24.8) times over the study period. A total of 61 out of 71 (86%) participants completed the first 2 weeks of the intervention and provided data on engagement (10/71, 14% attrition). A total of 41 participants out of 71 (58%) completed the full intervention and the postintervention questionnaires (30/71, 42% attrition). Results from the completer analysis showed a significant decrease in anxiety symptoms for participants in more extreme GAD-7 score ranges (t=0.94; P=.009) and a decrease in stress symptoms as measured by the PSS-10 (t=2.00; P=.05) for all participants postintervention. Participants also improved significantly in the describing and nonjudging facets, based on their FFMQ subscale scores, and asked for some improvements in the user experience with the chatbot.

Conclusions: This study shows the benefit of deploying a digital healthy-coping intervention via a chatbot to support university students experiencing higher levels of distress. While findings collected during the COVID-19 pandemic show promise, further research is required to confirm conclusions.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.2196/27965DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8166265PMC
May 2021

Use of eHealth Platforms and Apps to Support Monitoring and Management of Home-Quarantined Patients With COVID-19 in the Province of Trento, Italy: App Development and Implementation.

JMIR Form Res 2021 May 31;5(5):e25713. Epub 2021 May 31.

Fondazione Bruno Kessler, Trento, Italy.

Background: Italy was the first country to largely experience the COVID-19 epidemic among other Western countries during the so-called first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic. Proper management of an increasing number of home-quarantined individuals created a significant challenge for health care authorities and professionals. This was especially true when considering the importance of remote surveillance to detect signs of disease progression and consequently regulate access to hospitals and intensive care units on a priority basis.

Objective: In this paper, we report on an initiative promoted to cope with the first wave of the COVID-19 epidemic in the Spring/Summer of 2020, in the Autonomous Province of Trento, Italy. A purposefully built app named TreCovid19 was designed to provide dedicated health care staff with a ready-to-use tool for remotely monitoring patients with progressive symptoms of COVID-19, who were home-quarantined during the first wave of the epidemic, and to focus on those patients who, based on their self-reported clinical data, required a quick response from health care professionals.

Methods: TreCovid19 was rapidly developed to facilitate the monitoring of a selected number of home-quarantined patients with COVID-19 during the very first epidemic wave. The app was built on top of an existing eHealth platform, already in use by the local health authority to provide home care, with the following functionalities: (1) to securely collect and link demographic and clinical information related to the patients and (2) to provide a two-way communication between a multidisciplinary health care team and home-quarantined patients. The system supported patients to self-assess their condition and update the multidisciplinary team on their health status. The system was used between March and June 2020 in the province of Trento.

Results: A dedicated multidisciplinary group of health care professionals adopted the platform over a period of approximately 3 months (from March-end to June 2020) to monitor a total of 170 patients with confirmed COVID-19 during home quarantine. All patients used the system until the end of the initiative. The TreCovid19 system has provided useful insights of possible viability and impact of a technological-organizational asset to manage a potentially critical workload for the health care staff involved in the periodic monitoring of a relevant number of quarantined patients, notwithstanding its limitations given the rapid implementation of the whole initiative.

Conclusions: The technological and organizational model adopted in response to the COVID-19 pandemic was developed and finalized in a relatively short period during the initial few weeks of the epidemic. The system successfully supported the health care staff involved in the periodic monitoring of an increasing number of home-quarantined patients and provided valuable data in terms of disease surveillance.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.2196/25713DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8168637PMC
May 2021