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“E-Ami” Co-designing a mobile health approach to PTSI prevention and peer support with Ontario public safety personnel

Keywords: Mental Health, PTSI, Stigma

Project Advisory Team Members at the MaRS Design Sprint (Jan 2020) (left to right),

Dave McLennan, Glen Cullen, Sandra Moll, Kim Slade, Lisa Wolfe, Vajiheh Motamer, Charlene O’Connor, Sarah Easterbrook

Title of research

“E-Ami” Co-designing a mobile health approach to PTSI prevention and peer support with Ontario public safety personnel

Summary

Public safety personnel (PSP) play a critical front-line role in ensuring the health and safety of our communities. However, as a group, PSP are at higher risk for developing posttraumatic stress injury (PTSI). The project focuses on designing and pilot testing a mobile health application (m-health app) that will promote early intervention and support as a way to prevent the development of PTSI symptoms, build resilience, connect to peer support, and promote recovery.

To reach the goals of the project, the team will use a multi-pronged approach that incorporates:

  1. Education to build awareness of PSP wellness and how to seek help;
  2. An approach that reduces the stigma associated with help-seeking;
  3. Increased access to resources and supports that are relevant, timely, and evidence-based.

To design the app, the team will engage front-line PSP communities in creating prototype solutions. Initial (individual) interviews will be conducted with PSP followed by a series of focus groups. The first focus groups will explore key touchpoints in PSP work that impact psychological health and safety. Follow-up focus groups will work towards prioritizing issues and app features. Once a prototype is developed based on this research, beta testing will be conducted over eight to ten weeks.

The final app, customized for PSP, will allow access to resources 24/7. It will also provide the opportunity for anonymous, confidential, and high-quality information that is easily accessible.

When to expect results

The scope of the project has changed since the team has collaborated with Defense Research Development Canada and CIPSRT to create a national peer-to-peer support app. The team hopes to have an app available to test by the Fall of 2020. Once the app is available, the team will be looking for PSP to test the app over eight- ten weeks; any PSP interested in help with testing can contact Lisa Wolfe (wolfel@mcmaster.ca).

Research team

Dr. Sandra Moll is an occupational therapist and associate professor at McMaster University, with over two decades of clinical and research experience. Her primary program of research focuses on workplace mental health, including building mental wellness, promoting mental health literacy, and reducing stigma in the context of work.

Dr. Rebecca Gewurtz is an associate professor at McMaster University. Dr. Gewurtz’s research program examines employment and community participation for people with disabilities, and the impact of social policy on how benefit systems and employment supports are experienced in practice.

Dr. Margaret McKinnon is an associate professor at McMaster University and Homewood Chair. Dr. McKinnon’s research focuses on the interplay between cognitive and emotional processes at the neural and behavioural levels.

 

Charlene O’Connor is an occupational therapist and clinical research associate at Homewood Research Institute and Homewood Health Centre’s Program for Traumatic Stress Recovery. She is currently completing graduate training on the management of symptoms and improvement of quality of life for individuals with PTSD and related disorders, with particular emphasis on the needs of public safety personnel.

 

Kim Slade is the director of emerging markets and commercialization at Public Services Health & Safety Association (PSHSA). Kim has a diverse background that includes marketing and communications, technical writing, product development and instructional design.

 

Glenn Cullen is CEO and COO at PSHSA. Glen will provide expertise regarding technical development and implementation, and with the process of dissemination and product launch.

 

 

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