Psychiatr Serv 2018 04 15;69(4):377-388. Epub 2017 Dec 15.
The authors are with the Department of Psychiatry, University of California, San Francisco. Dr. Biagianti is also with Posit Science Corporation, San Francisco. Dr. Schlosser is also with Verily Life Sciences LLC, Mountain View, California.
Objective: Peer-to-peer interactions and support groups mitigate experiences of social isolation and loneliness often reported by individuals with psychotic disorders. Online peer-to-peer communication can promote broader use of this form of social support. Peer-to-peer interactions occur naturally on social media platforms, but they can negatively affect mental health. Recent digital interventions for persons with psychotic disorders have harnessed the principles of social media to incorporate peer-to-peer communication. This review examined the feasibility, acceptability, and preliminary efficacy of recent digital interventions in order to identify strategies to maximize benefits of online peer-to-peer communication for persons with psychotic disorders.
Methods: An electronic database search of PubMed, EMBASE, PsycINFO, Ovid MEDLINE, Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials, and Health Technology Assessment Database was conducted in February 2017 and yielded a total of 1,015 results. Eight publications that reported data from six independent trials and five interventions were reviewed.
Results: The technology supporting peer-to-peer communication varied greatly across studies, from online forums to embedded social networking. When peer-to-peer interactions were moderated by facilitators, retention, engagement, acceptability, and efficacy were higher than for interventions with no facilitators. Individuals with psychotic disorders were actively engaged with moderated peer-to-peer communication and showed improvements in perceived social support. Studies involving service users in intervention design showed higher rates of acceptability.
Conclusions: Individuals with psychotic disorders value and benefit from digital interventions that include moderated peer-to-peer interactions. Incorporating peer-to-peer communication into digital interventions for this population may increase compliance with other evidence-based therapies by producing more acceptable and engaging online environments.