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Engaging service users and service providers in a digital health intervention

What we are doing:

We want to find out what helps and, or, hinders people from participating and remaining in research. The research area we will be exploring this in is people with excessive worries about their health who are offered talking therapy via a DHI (phone or video calling). 

The PhD study is nested within the Urgent Care Study. Interviews have been conducted with service users and service providers who were invited to participate in the study to hear about their experiences of being involved. 

Why we are doing it:

The prevalence of mental health continues to rise each year but only a quarter of people with depression and, or, anxiety receive treatment. It is estimated by 2030 depression will be the leading cause of disease burden worldwide. This can be because of aspects such as access but also the stigma of accessing psychological therapy. 

One way to overcome this has been to offer therapy via a digital health platform such as mobile phones, iPads or computers. Research in healthcare is critical to evidence-based practice as it enables the establishment of early access to treatments and prevention strategies. Given the rise in the prevalence of mental illnesses, the need for trials focussing on psychological interventions is even greater. However, poor recruitment and retention is common, particularly in randomised controlled trials (RCTs) and even more so for digital health interventions. Thus, it is important to explore and understand the factors that impact on recruitment and retention from a service user and service provider perspective. 

What the benefits will be:

An understanding of the barriers and facilitators to participating in digital health interventions will help to improve healthcare research and inform government policy and wider practice. It will have implications for the design of mental health, digital intervention trials to be more tailored towards service user and service provider needs and improve recruitment and retention of participants. 

Who we are working with:

We are working with primary and secondary healthcare users and providers of unscheduled and urgent care. This includes accident and emergency departments, outpatient clinics, GP practices, walk in centres and mental health services delivering psychological treatment..


Shireen Patel,


Photo by Anna Shvets from Pexels