R03 – mHealth in West Africa: Developing An Evidence-Based Psychosocial Intervention Toolkit
- Dror Ben-Zeev, PhD, Professor, Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences
- Jaime Snyder, PhD, Assistant Professor, Information School and Human-Centered Design and Engineering
Worldwide, serious mental illnesses (SMI) such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder are major causes of impairment and disability. The majority of people with SMI in West Africa receive care from traditional and faith healers who have no formal training in the etiology, assessment, or evidence-based treatment of mental illness. Our multidisciplinary team is partnering with regional stakeholders in West Africa to co-develop mHealer, a mobile health system that will deliver multimedia Evidence-Based Psychosocial Intervention (EBPI) training, educational information about psychiatric illness, and content designed to increase healers’ awareness of human rights and preservation of human dignity in practice. We will employ user-centered mixed-method data collection strategies to conduct a targeted needs assessment In Ghana. Activities include direct observation, contextual inquiry, and healer interviews to uncover potential barriers to EBPI learnability in LMIC settings. We will design and develop an mHealer prototype and gather user feedback to identify testable solutions to EBPI learnability challenges. The project will constitute the first step in a staged program of research to develop, refine, deploy, adapt, and evaluate a user-centered technology-based system to support EBPI delivery capacity in West Africa. More broadly, the project will directly contribute to the mission and objectives of the UW ALACRITY center by identifying EBPI modification needs to improve clinical capacity, EBPI usability, and sustained quality in under-resourced contexts.
The problem we are trying to solve is: People with serious mental illness (SMI) in Ghana are treated by traditional and faith healers who have no training in evidence-based practices. We are working with stakeholders in Ghana to develop a mobile health system designed to improve the quality of care that healers provide to vulnerable individuals with SMI.