A PILOT ASSESSMENT OF A TABLET-BASED INTERVENTION FOR HOMEBOUND OR SOCIALLY ISOLATED OLDER ADULTS WITH DEPRESSION
Innovation in aging
Older adults who are homebound or socially isolated have high rates of loneliness and depression with fewer opportunities for treatment. Our team extended an existing psychotherapy intervention (Engage & Connect) to improve access to mental health care for older adults who are homebound. We iteratively created a tablet-based application (Engage PRISM) leveraging a user-centered design approach to provide older adults, particularly those with limited technology experience, an easy-to-use
... ion to support social reward. Engage PRISM connects clients with the psychotherapy intervention and additional features to increase social reward exposure virtually. All eligible participants received a K92 ZTE tablet, equipped with the Engage PRISM application, internet service, Zoom, and access to Selfhelp's Virtual Senior Center. Participants were then enrolled in the 9-week Engage & Connect intervention delivered by a licensed mental health counselor via Zoom on the tablet each week. We evaluated feasibility of the intervention and preliminary effect on depressive symptoms through a weekly PHQ-9. Feasibility was assessed through participants' ability to use the tablet to access mental health treatment. We provided tablets to eight participants ages 67 to 84; participants demonstrated 100% feasibility of use of the tablet intervention. We dropped two participants from the study due to a greater level of care needed. All participants were provided with referrals prior to ending the study. Preliminary evidence indicates that four of the six remaining participants had experienced a reduction in depressive symptoms (i.e., had lower PHQ-9 scores) three weeks into the study reporting over a 30% reduction on average.