User-centered Development of STOP (Successful Treatment for Paranoia): Material Development and Usability Testing for a Digital Therapeutic for Paranoia

Che-Wei Hsu, Daniel Stahl, Elias Mouchlianitis, Emmanuelle Peters, George Vamvakas, Jeroen Keppens, Miles Watson, Nora Schmidt, Pamela Jacobsen, Philip McGuire, Sukhwinder Shergill, Thomas Kabir, Tia Hirani, Ziyang Yang, Jenny Yiend

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

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Abstract

Background: Paranoia is a highly debilitating mental health condition. One novel intervention for paranoia is cognitive bias modification for paranoia (CBM-pa). CBM-pa comes from a class of interventions that focus on manipulating interpretation bias. Here, we aimed to develop and evaluate new therapy content for CBM-pa for later use in a self-administered digital therapeutic for paranoia called STOP ("Successful Treatment of Paranoia"). 

Objective: This study aimed to (1) take a user-centered approach with input from living experts, clinicians, and academics to create and evaluate paranoia-relevant item content to be used in STOP and (2) engage with living experts and the design team from a digital health care solutions company to cocreate and pilot-test the STOP mobile app prototype. 

Methods: We invited 18 people with living or lived experiences of paranoia to create text exemplars of personal, everyday emotionally ambiguous scenarios that could provoke paranoid thoughts. Researchers then adapted 240 suitable exemplars into corresponding intervention items in the format commonly used for CBM training and created 240 control items for the purpose of testing STOP. Each item included newly developed, visually enriching graphics content to increase the engagement and realism of the basic text scenarios. All items were then evaluated for their paranoia severity and readability by living experts (n=8) and clinicians (n=7) and for their item length by the research team. Items were evenly distributed into six 40-item sessions based on these evaluations. Finalized items were presented in the STOP mobile app, which was co-designed with a digital health care solutions company, living or lived experts, and the academic team; user acceptance was evaluated across 2 pilot tests involving living or lived experts. Results: All materials reached predefined acceptable thresholds on all rating criteria: paranoia severity (intervention items: ≥1; control items: ≤1, readability: ≥3, and length of the scenarios), and there was no systematic difference between the intervention and control group materials overall or between individual sessions within each group. For item graphics, we also found no systematic differences in users' ratings of complexity (P=.68), attractiveness (P=.15), and interest (P=.14) between intervention and control group materials. User acceptance testing of the mobile app found that it is easy to use and navigate, interactive, and helpful. 

Conclusions: Material development for any new digital therapeutic requires an iterative and rigorous process of testing involving multiple contributing groups. Appropriate user-centered development can create user-friendly mobile health apps, which may improve face validity and have a greater chance of being engaging and acceptable to the target end users.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere45453
JournalJMIR Human Factors
Volume10
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 8 Dec 2023

Keywords

  • cognitive bias modification
  • content specificity
  • delusions
  • digital therapeutic
  • megalomania
  • mental health
  • mhealth
  • mobile app
  • monomania
  • obsession
  • paranoia
  • paranoid
  • persecution
  • persecution complex
  • psychosis
  • psychotic
  • user
  • user-centered development
  • user-friendly app

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Human Factors and Ergonomics
  • Health Informatics

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