Workforce challenges in digital health implementation: How are clinical psychology training programmes developing digital competences?

Helen Pote, Annabel Rees, Charley Holloway-Biddle, Emma Griffith

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Citations (SciVal)


Objectives: Digital practice in psychological services is a rapidly expanding and innovative area which is supporting continuation of clinical provision during the COVID-19 pandemic. Training the workforce to deliver safe and effective online psychological provision is key to service success and relies on accurate mapping of competences and current training needs. This paper discusses the initial stage for developing the first digital mental health competence framework for applied psychology in the UK. It reports on the digital training currently provided nationally and barriers/facilitators to acquiring these competencies. Methods: Eighteen of the thirty UK Clinical Psychology Doctoral training programmes completed a 16-item survey. This mapped current digital health teaching and skills acquisition for trainee Clinical Psychologists throughout their 3-year pre-registration training. Furthermore, potential barriers and facilitators to developing these digital skills for both trainee and qualified Clinical Psychologists were investigated. Results: The quantitative analysis highlighted the majority of respondents viewed developing digital mental health competencies with importance, but were not integrating this into teaching or clinical placements activity. The qualitative, inductive content analysis revealed seven key themes influencing the development of digital mental health skills, with the majority of respondents identifying with two themes; the need for practice guidelines (50% of respondents) and opportunities for digital mental health experience. Conclusions: The findings suggest the need for a greater focus on developing the digital health knowledge, skills, and confidence across trainee and qualified Clinical Psychologists. Strategic analysis indicated the need to develop a framework for digital mental health competences across the curriculum and placement experience. Easily accessible learning packages may support the implementation of training nationally.

Original languageEnglish
JournalDigital Health
Early online date11 Feb 2021
Publication statusPublished - 12 Feb 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s) 2021.

Copyright 2021 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.


  • Clinical Psychology
  • competences
  • Digital Health
  • training

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health Informatics
  • Health Policy
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Health Information Management


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