Prof. David C Mohr


David C Mohr Controversias Psiquiatria Barcelona
Talk Digital mental health for common mental health pathologies
Date Saturday, April 22nd, 2017
Time 11:45 - 12:30


David C. Mohr, Ph.D. is Professor of Preventive Medicine in the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, with appointments in Departments of Preventive Medicine, Psychiatry, and Medical Social Sciences,. He is the founder and Director of Northwestern University's Center for Behavioral Intervention Technologies (CBITs), which has become one of the leading centers for research in technology and mental health in the United States, supporting more than 65 funded projects on 4 continents. He has been elected Fellow of the American Psychological Association and of the Society for Behavioral Medicine.

Dr. Mohr has long been interested in telemental health, conducting some of the first work validating telephone psychotherapy. Over the last decade his work has focused increasingly on developing, optimizing, and evaluating interventions that harness web-based technologies to promote mental health and wellness, and increasingly interventions that use mobile phones and technologies. He is currently exploring stepped care models that use more cost-effective technology-enabled treatments a first-line treatment. He is shifting away from single apps to examine how platforms that integrate a suite of apps can be structured to deliver treatment tailored to the individual needs of patients. In primary care, he is developing systems that provide data and communication between patients and providers around symptoms, side-effects, and adherence to improve processes of pharmacotherapy. He is also working on personal sensing, which harnesses sensor data from mobile phones to estimate behaviors related to depression and anxiety, and ultimately symptom severity.

Dr. Mohr's work has been consistently funded as the principal investigator by the United States National Institutes of Health for more than 20 years, resulting in over 175 peer-reviewed publications, and more than 25 book chapters.


Over that past 15 years, more than 50 randomized controlled trials have shown that digital mental health interventions, which use common technologies such as web and phone apps, can produce improvements in symptoms of depression and anxiety, often in the range of those produced by psychotherapy and pharmacotherapy. This research indicates that digital mental health has the potential to be a revolution in mental health care, on par with the developments of psychotherapy and pharmacotherapy. However, despite many attempts, successful real-world implementation in healthcare systems has proven difficult. This talk will present a brief overview of the approaches to digital mental health interventions for depression and anxiety, as well as the research support for these interventions. I will argue that the research-to-practice gap is due in part to misconceptions about the nature of digital technologies and in part to insufficient attention to the design of the human services and organizational elements of digital mental health interventions. We should be designing services that are enabled by technology, rather than designing technologies, and then building services to help people use those technologies. Design of patient-facing tools must aim to help users with their goals, rather than trying to teach them what we as clinicians want them to know. Some of these approaches will be illustrated by the research and development on our IntelliCare platform, which aims to treat symptoms of depression and anxiety. The IntelliCare platform provides a suite of mobile apps, each of which addresses a specific behavioral strategy. Users can select apps that they want to use. This talk will provide data from a public deployment through the Google Play app store and from a coached version in which lay care managers provided low intensity coaching. The IntelliCare platform shifts digital mental health intervention design from applications to platforms that are flexible and adaptable. The talk will also present the application of a more controversial emerging technology, the ability to track users through networked sensors. This talk will present some data on the use of in-phone sensors that provide continuous data such as GPS, movement, light, in-phone contacts, sound, and app use to detect depression and behaviors related to depression. Such technologies pose substantial ethical, legal, and cultural questions, but also hold promise to create intervention tools that can respond in real time, in the fabric of people lives, to help nudge behaviors that promote wellness and improved quality of life.


[PDF] Mohr D, et al (2017). Personal Sensing: Understanding Mental Health Using Ubiquitous Sensors and Machine Learning. Annual Review of Clinical Psychology Vol. 13:-(in press)

[web] Mohr D, et al (2017). IntelliCare: An Eclectic, Skills-Based App Suite for the Treatment of Depression and Anxiety. J Med Internet Res 2017;19(1):e10

[web] Corden ME, et al (2016). MedLink: A mobile intervention to improve medication adherence and processes of care for treatment of depression in general medicine. SAGE Publications. 2016 vol 2 2055-2076 doi: 10.1177/2055207616663069

[web] Mohr D, et al (2015). Trials of Intervention Principles: Evaluation Methods for Evolving Behavioral Intervention Technologies. J Med Internet Res. 2015 Jul; 17(7): e166.