The eMental Health Bridges Project will transform the existing NLM-funded eMental Health (eMH) web- based resource of the UMMS Lamar Soutter Library into a dynamic, interactive, wide-reaching eHealth resource for individuals with serious mental illness (SMI) that: (a) promotes health literacy through the proposed eMental Health for Me (eMH4me) training module; (b) serves as a theory-driven bridge to essential physical health information for this health disparity population via the development of eMental Health Bridges; (c) embraces user experience design and the accommodations required for individuals with SMI to benefit fully from emerging innovations in rich digital media and interactivity; and (d) exploits device agnostic design to enhance the reach, accessibility and usability of the eMH suite of resources across a range of devices. Individuals with SMI die 25 years earlier, on average, than the general population and are designated a health disparity population by the National Association of State Mental Health Program Directors. While the Internet provides exciting opportunities to support person-centered health care, web-based resources may convey new barriers and, consequently, contribute to even greater health disparities for individuals with SMI. For those with limited access to computers, mobile devices may provide promising opportunities to enhance Internet access, if resources are appropriately designed and accessible.
Specific Aims i nclude: (1) Employ user experience design to make strategic recommendations for eMH redesign including the eMH4me training module and the eMH Bridges component prototypes. We will conduct structured, systematic reviews by experts and users of existing eHealth information resources (n < 20) including the current eMH resource; two focus groups of users with SMI (n < 20) to ensure the selection of appropriate content, level of complexity, and technology; and a review of eMH web analytics data from the previous 12 months. Design recommendations will comprise the eMH Strategic Plan to inform next project phases. (2) Conduct in-person usability testing to develop the fully functional eMH4me and eMH Bridges prototypes. We will conduct iterative, side-by-side sessions with individuals with SMI in the laboratory or office environment (n = 20). Appropriate modifications will be made, based on testing, to finalize the prototypes. (3) Conduct remote testing of the acceptability and feasibilit of the eMH4me and eMH Bridges prototypes with individuals with SMI (n = 100) with access to the resources for two months, to assess satisfaction, usefulness, and ease of use and learning. We will obtain feedback via telephone interviews with a purposive subsample of these users (n = 20); and evaluate usage metrics. Findings will inform refinements to eMH4me and eMH Bridges. Final products will also include the eMH Satisfaction Survey and Quality Metrics Profile for ongoing use. eMental Health will be actively sustained by long-standing partners, and will be an essential resource to individuals, organizations and institutions across the country committed to improving health outcomes for individuals with SMI.

Public Health Relevance

Bridges to Health Information for Individuals with Serious Mental Illness Project Narrative Individuals with serious mental illness die 25 years earlier, on average, than the general population, typically due to physical health conditions with modifiable risk factors. They comprise a significant health disparity population whose health information needs are not currently well met via electronic web-based resources. Their unique physical and mental health needs, as well as web design requirements, must be considered in the enhancement of electronic health information resources to improve health literacy and reduce health disparities for this population.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Library of Medicine (NLM)
Resources Project Grant (NLM) (G08)
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Special Emphasis Panel (ZLM1)
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Vanbiervliet, Alan
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University of Massachusetts Medical School Worcester
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