By Homirah Mullah from the CAMHS.Digital Young People’s Advisory Group
CAMHS.Digital is a research unit within Greater Manchester Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust (GMMH) and affiliated with the Centre for Women’s Mental Health (CWMH) at the University of Manchester.
The Patient and Public Involvement App (PPIE) is a National Institute for Health Research Greater Manchester Applied Research Collaboration (NIHR GM-ARC)-funded app, that has been developed by the Digital Health Software team at the University of Manchester in collaboration with young people to increase their involvement in mental health research. The app presents a hub of a diverse range of research projects for young people to participate in. With easy to understand instructions and attractive design it allows comfortable access into providing input into mental health research projects. Having used the app myself as a 21 year old, I found it effortless to use and it was fascinating to see an array of different research projects to participate in.
The app allows its users to choose their areas of interest from a diverse list of conditions from common mental disorders such as depression and anxiety, to less common disorders such as agoraphobia. Only research projects from these areas of interest will be presented, therefore allowing the user straightforward access into participating in projects that they are interested in as opposed to browsing through a wide range of projects, which may appear off-putting. The user is able to change their areas of interest whenever they wish to do so. A brief description of the study is also provided so that the user has the option to read further about the study if it sparks their interest- reducing the time that may have otherwise been spent on trying to read through the participant information sheet to grasp a brief understanding of studies, which some users may find unappealing. The option to take part in the study is then presented from which the user can agree to take part in the study, or otherwise decline- in this case, another study would be presented.
Example screenshots from within the app
Though I have been involved in many research studies, I am often unaware of the results and the next steps following the study, hence it was especially refreshing to see that the app allows its users to view comments and updates regarding the studies the user has participated in. This consolidates the feeling of involvement in the study and encourages the user to take part in more studies as they can feel as though they are part of something significant.
As there is an increasing demand for young people to participate in mental health research, especially as the research projects are based on young people, an app such as the PPIE app is highly necessary. It seems likely that the PPIE app would appear appealing to young people due to its clear usability, alongside it’s increased feeling of involvement and easy browsing. The vast array of mental conditions may also increase the interest.