Shaping Blended Care: Adapting an Instrument to Support Therapists in Using eMental Health

Hanneke Kip*, Jobke Wentzel, Saskia M. Kelders

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)
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Background: Although eMental health interventions, especially when delivered in a blended way, have great potential to improve the quality and efficiency of mental health care, their use in practice lags behind expectations. The Fit for Blended Care (FfBC) instrument was developed to support therapists and clients in shaping blended care in a way that optimally fits their needs. However, this existing version cannot be directly applied to specific branches of mental health care as it is too broad and generic.

Objective: The goal of this study is to adapt the existing FfBC instrument to fit a specific, complex setting—forensic mental health care—by means of participatory development with therapists.

Methods: The participatory process was divided into 4 phases and was executed by a project team consisting of 1 manager, 3-5 therapists, and 1 researcher. In phase 1, general requirements for the adaptation of the existing instrument were discussed in 2 focus groups with the project team. In phase 2, patient-related factors that influence the use of an existing web-based intervention were elicited through semistructured interviews with all 18 therapists working at an outpatient clinic. In phase 3, multiple focus groups with the project teams were held to create the first version of the adapted FfBC instrument. In phase 4, a digital prototype of the instrument was used with 8 patients, and the experiences of the 4 therapists were discussed in a focus group.

Results: In phase 1, it became clear that the therapists’ main requirement was to develop a much shorter instrument with a few items, in which the content was specifically tailored to the characteristics of forensic psychiatric outpatients. The interviews showed a broad range of patient-related factors, of which 5 were used in the instrument: motivation for blended treatment; writing about thoughts, feelings, and behavior; conscientiousness; psychosocial problems; and social support. In addition, a part of the instrument was focused on the practical necessary preconditions that patients should fill by themselves before the treatment was developed. The use of the web-based prototype of the instrument in treatment resulted in overall positive experiences with the content; however, therapists indicated that the items should be formulated in a more patient-centered way to encourage their involvement in discussing the factors.

Conclusions: The participatory, iterative process of this study resulted in an adapted version of the FfBC instrument that fits the specific forensic context and supports shared decision making. In general, the adaptiveness of the instrument is important: its content and implementation should fit the type of care, the organization, and eHealth intervention. To adapt the instrument to other contexts, the guidelines described in this paper can be followed.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere24245
JournalJMIR mental health
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 13 Nov 2020


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