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Workshop on Implementation Science and Digital Therapeutics for Behavioral Health


Lord SE, Campbell ANC, et al.


This paper describes proceedings of a workshop bringing together interdisciplinary scientists involved in behavioral health digital therapeutic (DT) research. The primary aim of the workshop was to collectively focus on application of implementation science to stages of DT development research to promote broad accessibility and more rapid science-to-practice translation of DT approaches in systems of care.


The Center for Technology and Behavioral Health (CTBH) hosted a day-long workshop, “Implementation Science and Digital Therapeutics.” Attendees represented computer science, human interface design, public health, primary care, addiction medicine, psychiatry, behavioral economics, DT development research, and implementation science. CTBH-affiliated scientists presented DT research with specific consideration of relevant implementation constructs, guided by current clinical and implementation science frameworks. Attendee discussion focused on identifying directions for research to accelerate translation of DT approaches.

  • Systematic consideration of relevant implementation-related constructs from the outset of DT development can increase perceived relevance of DTs across stakeholder groups, improving likelihood of later implementation success.
  • Significant implementation barriers include interface of DTs with a broad array of electronic health record systems and access disparities created by technology infrastructure variability (e.g., limited rural broadband and WiFi).
  • Innovating development and implementation methodologies and promoting academic-industry partnerships can accelerate evaluation and translation of DT.
  • User-centered development processes, multidisciplinary research teams, and ongoing use of participatory methods with stakeholders increase likelihood of developing DTs that can be sustainably implemented.
  • Attending to implementation from early-stage research helps ensure that DTs are both maximally efficacious and implementable, allowing later-stage research to focus on refinement of implementation strategies to promote broad translation and sustainability of DTs in care systems.
  • Systematic evaluation of implementation-related constructs across stages of DT research can build cumulative knowledge to foster research replication and cross-study comparisons, further supporting translational processes.
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Lord SE, Campbell ANC, et al. Workshop on implementation science and digital therapeutics for behavioral health. JMIR Mental Health. 8(1): e17662. 28 January 2021. doi: 10.2196/17662