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Blended digital and face-to-face care for first-episode psychosis treatment in young people: Qualitative study

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posted on 2021-01-27, 02:38 authored by L Valentine, C McEnery, Imogen Bell, S O'Sullivan, I Pryor, J Gleeson, S Bendall, M Alvarez-Jimenez
© Lee Valentine, Carla McEnery, Imogen Bell, Shaunagh O'Sullivan, Ingrid Pryor, John Gleeson, Sarah Bendall, Mario Alvarez-Jimenez. Originally published in JMIR Mental Health (, 28.07.2020. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work, first published in JMIR Mental Health, is properly cited. The complete bibliographic information, a link to the original publication on, as well as this copyright and license information must be included. Background: A small number of studies have found that digital mental health interventions can be feasible and acceptable for young people experiencing first-episode psychosis; however, little research has examined how they might be blended with face-to-face approaches in order to enhance care. Blended treatment refers to the integration of digital and face-to-face mental health care. It has the potential to capitalize on the evidence-based features of both individual modalities, while also exceeding the sum of its parts. This integration could bridge the online-offline treatment divide and better reflect the interconnected, and often complementary, ways young people navigate their everyday digital and physical lives. Objective: This study aimed to gain young people's perspectives on the design and implementation of a blended model of care in first-episode psychosis treatment. Methods: This qualitative study was underpinned by an end-user development framework and was based on semistructured interviews with 10 participants aged 19 to 28 (mean 23.4, SD 2.62). A thematic analysis was used to analyze the data. Results: Three superordinate themes emerged relating to young people's perspectives on the design and implementation of a blended model of care in first-episode psychosis treatment: (1) blended features, (2) cautions, and (3) therapeutic alliance. Conclusions: We found that young people were very enthusiastic about the prospect of blended models of mental health care, in so far as it was used to enhance their experience of traditional face-to-face treatment but not to replace it overall. Aspects of blended treatment that could enhance clinical care were readily identified by young people as increasing accessibility, continuity, and consolidation; accessing posttherapy support; strengthening the relationship between young person and clinician; and tracking personal data that could be used to better inform clinical decision making. Future research is needed to investigate the efficacy of blended models of care by evaluating its impact on the therapeutic alliance, clinical and social outcomes, cost-effectiveness, and engagement.


We would like to thank the young people who participated in this study and shared their time and perspectives with us. LV was supported by the Mental Illness Research Fund from the State Government of Victoria. CM was supported by the Australian Government Research Training Program Scholarship. IB was supported by the Victorian Government Department of Health Innovation Grant. SO was supported by the Rebound National Health and Medical Research Council Project Grant. MA-J was supported by a National Health and Medical Research Council Investigator Grant (APP1177235). SB was supported by a McCusker Charitable Foundation fellowship.


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JMIR Mental Health





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JMIR Publications



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