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Training Staff Across the Veterans Affairs Health Care System to Use Mobile Mental Health Apps: A National Quality Improvement Project

McGee-Vincent P, Mackintosh M, Jamison A, Juhasz K, Becket-Davenport C, Bosch J, Avery T, Glamb L, Hampole S. Training Staff Across the Veterans Affairs Health Care System to Use Mobile Mental Health Apps: A National Quality Improvement Project. JMIR Ment Health 2023;10:e41773 DOI: 10.2196/41773

This paper described and evaluated a training program for staff in the Veterans Affairs (VA) healthcare system to increase the reach of mobile mental health apps for veterans. Sites from all VA’s geographic regions were enrolled in this study with at least 25 staff members with direct contact with veterans recruited to participate. A total of 1110 staff from 19 VA sites completed the training program. Sixty-seven percent of participants provided mental health care. Staff training was delivered via a live, web-based format and consisted of a 3-hour core module for all staff and 1-hour module designed specifically for mental health clinicians. Program reach, satisfaction, and effectiveness of the training were assessed pre- and post-training by staff self-reported surveys. Most participants (93.9%) were satisfied with the training and 92.4% would recommend it to other staff. Knowledge about mobile apps and confidence in ability to demonstrate to veterans how to install and use mental health apps significantly increased after training (p<.001). Participants also expressed motivation to refer veterans to apps and encourage other VA staff to share apps with veterans. Overall, this study exceeded their recruitment target, indicating a higher-than-anticipated interest among staff. Further, the training program was well received and effective in promoting awareness about and motivation to recommend mobile health apps. About a third of participants came from other settings besides mental health, which suggests the value of VA mental health apps across the healthcare system. Future work is needed to evaluate the extent to which providers follow up on recommending mobile health apps to patients and patients accessing the mobile health apps.


Implementation fidelity of the Promoting First Relationships intervention program in a Native community

Booth-LaForce C, Oxford ML, O’Leary R, Rees J, Petras A, Buchwald DS. Implementation fidelity of the Promoting First Relationships intervention program in a Native community. Transl Behav Med. 2023 Jan 20;13(1):34-41. doi: 10.1093/tbm/ibac060. PMID: 36227860; PMCID: PMC9853091.

An evidence-based parenting intervention called Promoting First Relationship (PFR) was evaluated for implementation fidelity in a Northern Plains Native community. PFR is a preventive program for primary caregivers and their young children based on attachment theory. Ten sessions are delivered weekly for an hour through home visits conducted by trained providers who are tribal members living on the reservation with at least a relevant bachelor’s degree. Each week has a specific theme and includes a check-in, reflection time, observation of video recordings, and handouts on the child’s behaviors, feelings, and needs. This study analyzed data from a randomized controlled trial of 162 primary caregivers and their children (10-30 months old) who were assigned to the PFR intervention or the control condition (referral to local resources). PFR providers were trained in a two-day in-person workshop and then, online intensive training and pilot sessions. All trainees were required to pass fidelity checks with three families to be certified. Researchers measured implementation fidelity using a checklist on adherence to content, scoring quality of delivery in video-recorded sessions, number of PFR sessions completed, and participant satisfaction. On average, adherence to PFR content was very high (mean=0.99 out of 1.00; SD=0.02) and quality of delivery exceeded established criteria. Despite high attrition which occurred before intervention delivery (28.40%, N=23), the remaining participants completed all 10 intervention sessions. Additionally, participants reported high satisfaction with the program (mean=3.90 out of 4, SD=0.19). Overall, high implementation fidelity of the PFR intervention was achieved in a Native community using in-person and remote online training and video feedback.


“It’s hard to argue with a computer:” Investigating psychotherapists’ attitudes towards automated evaluation

Hirsch T, Soma C, Merced K, et al. “It’s hard to argue with a computer:” Investigating psychotherapists’ attitudes towards automated evaluation. Proceedings of the 2018 Designing Interactive Systems Conference; 2018; Hong Kong, China. doi: 10.1145/3196709.3196776e

Researchers recruited novice (n=10) and experienced (n=11) counselors to deliver a mock session of motivational interviewing (MI) while being recorded by the Counselor Observer Ratings Expert for Motivational Interviewing (CORE-MI). Read More


Beta-test results for an HPV information web site: Increasing HPV vaccine uptake in the United States.

Starling, R., Nodulman, J.A., Kong, A.S., Wheeler, C.M., Buller, D.B., & Woodall, W.G. (2014). Beta-test results for an HPV information web site: Increasing HPV vaccine uptake in the United States. Journal of Consumer Health on the Internet, 18(3), 226-237. PMCID: PMC4159190.

While medical guidelines and the Department of Health and Human Services recommend the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine for adolescent girls, only 33% of girls in the United States receive all three doses of the vaccine. To improve HPV vaccination rates, the authors developed and pilot tested an interactive website,, to educate adolescent girls and their parents about HPV and the vaccine. The program provides parents with information on HPV and the vaccine, and strategies for communicating with daughters and medical providers about the HPV vaccine. The module for girls uses a game show format. The website was piloted with a diverse group of 63 parents and their adolescent daughters recruited through community contacts and school-based health centers. Pre- and post-tests evaluated satisfaction with the website and changes in attitudes about the HPV vaccine. Participants found informative and easy to use. Post-test results showed that parents were more likely to have favorable attitudes toward the HPV vaccine and had increased self-efficacy for making an informed choice about vaccination. A greater proportion of parents wanted to get their daughters vaccinated at post-test relative to pre-test. Results show preliminary support for the GoHealthyGirls website.


People, Places and Adolescent Substance Use: Multiple Dimensions of Drug Use

Article Excerpt: Addiction is not just biological – there is a social dimension to understand. And how a teenager’s friends, favorite hangouts and feelings and moods all interact to influence substance use can say a lot.

This is the focus of research by Virginia Commonwealth University psychologist Michael Mason, Ph.D, associate professor of psychiatry and director of the VCU Commonwealth Institute for Child and Family Studies.

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Article Source: Medical Xpress


Improving Smoking Cessation Counseling Using a Point-of-Care Health Intervention Tool (IT): From the Virginia Practice Support and Research Network (VaPSRN)

Strayer, S.M., Heim, S.W., Rollins, L.K.,…Schorling, J.B. (2013). Improving smoking cessation counseling using a point-of-care health intervention tool (IT): From the Virginia Practice Support and Research Network (VaPSRN). Journal of the American Board of Family Medicine, 26(2), 116-125.

A novel, evidence-based software program for handheld computers was designed and hypothesized to improve clinicians’ ability to provide patient-tailored smoking cessation counseling at the point of care.  The tool was evaluated using a validated before/after survey to measure physician smoking cessation counseling behaviors, knowledge, and comfort/self-efficacy.  Participants included 17 physicians from a practice-based research network.  After 4 months of use in direct patient care, physicians were more likely to advise patients to stop smoking and reported an increase in use of the “5 As” (ask, advise, assess, assist, arrange).  Improved self-efficacy in counseling patients regarding smoking cessation was seen, as was increased comfort in providing follow-up to patients.  Use of a handheld computer software tool improved smoking cessation counseling among physicians and shows promise for translating evidence about smoking cessation counseling into practice and educational settings.


Translating Health Communication Research Into Practice: The Importance of Implementing and Sustaining Evidence-Based Health Communication Interventions

Kreps, G. L. (2012). Translating health communication research into practice: The importance of implementing and sustaining evidence-based health communication interventions. Atlantic Journal of Communication, 20, 5-15.

Many health care and health promotion practitioners have been slow to use research to help them accomplish their complex health communication goals. The result is that many complex health communication efforts that might benefit from research are not guided by strong evidence. This article examines strategies for promoting the application of the best health communication research to guide development, implementation, and institutionalization of evidence-based health communication programs, policies, and practices.


HHS Launches Online Training, Text Message Pilot on HIV/AIDS Care

Article Excerpt: Health and Human Services has announced plans to launch an online training program to help clinicians improve care for people with HIV.  Also, HHS announced that it is partnering with the MAC AIDS Fund to pilot a mobile text messaging service — called UCARE4LIFE — that would send health tips, appointment reminders and medication alerts to HIV-positive individuals.

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Article source:  iHealthBeat