Seminar 3: University of Sussex

14 October 2013 

Theme: Optimising Engagement with Internet Interventions


Keynote speakers:

Personalized internet treatment. Boosting the effects by tailoring?

Gerhard Andersson, PhD, Professor, Linköping University and Karolinska institute, Sweden,

Psychological treatments tend to be manualized and standardized in research, which does not reflect clinical practice where treatments often are adapted according to patient profile and presenting symptoms. A fairly novel approach to psychological treatment is to deliver treatment contents via the internet with minimal support from a clinician. This treatment format has been tested in more than 100 controlled trials and head to head comparisons against face-to-face treatments tend to show equivalence. However, a novel form of internet treatment involves tailoring the contents of the treatment according to comorbidities and patient preferences. For example, a depressed patient may suffer from comorbid socal anxiety, insomnia and stress. Apart from depressive symptoms, the next patient may have a different profile with relationship problems, somatic problems and procrastination. Needless to say there is no one manual for all possible combinations, but research suggests that treatment can be personalized and tailored with sustained effects and potentially superior outcomes. A neglected factor in research is patient preferences regarding treatment ingredients, and pilot work indicates that at least some decisions regarding treatment contents can be delegated to the patient. The talk concludes by highlighting new ways to tailor internet interventions, including choice of language to present the intervention and modern information technology.


The ‘person-based' approach to optimizing digital interventions

Professor Lucy Yardley, University of Southampton,

This presentation describes an approach that we have evolved for developing successful digital interventions to help people manage their health or illness. We have named this the ‘person-based’ approach to highlight the focus on understanding and accommodating the perspective of the people who will use the intervention. While all intervention designers seek to elicit and incorporate the views of target users in a variety of ways, we believe that the person-based approach may offer a distinctive and systematic means of doing so, and can enhance the use of theory– and evidencebased approaches to intervention development. There are two key elements to the person-based approach. The first is a developmental process involving qualitative research with a wide range of people from the target user populations, carried out at four key stages: planning, content development, feasibility testing and implementation. This process goes beyond assessing acceptability, usability and satisfaction, allowing the intervention designers to build a deep understanding of the situation and views of users, and thus anticipate and interpret intervention usage and outcomes. The second element is to identify ‘guiding principles’ that can inspire and inform the intervention development by highlighting the key context-specific behavioural issues that the intervention planning must address.