Identification of Factors to Improve Effectiveness and Implementation of a Multi-faceted COVID‑19 Mental Health Intervention: Follow-up to the SPIN-CHAT Trial

Thombs, Brett D | $89,901

Quebec Lady Davis Institute for Medical Research 2020 CIHR Operating Grant

The COVID‑19 pandemic has spread rapidly, seen an increasing number of deaths, and taxed economies. Fears due to risk of infection, collapsing healthcare systems, unknown isolation/restriction periods, and that resources will be insufficient have resulted in poor mental health outcomes. Such outcomes may be worse among those with pre-existing medical conditions. Individuals with the autoimmune disease, scleroderma are representative of other vulnerable groups in terms of COVID‑19 mental health ramifications due to their frailty, pre-existing respiratory concerns, and suppressed immune systems. Governments, organizations, and researchers have suggested that multi-faceted interventions are required during this time. Yet, only one study has tested such an intervention during COVID-19: The Scleroderma Patient-centered Intervention Network COVID‑19 Home-Isolation Activities Together (SPIN-CHAT) Program, which was rapidly designed and tested with 172 participants. The SPIN-CHAT Program consisted of 3 group sessions/week over 4 weeks. Trained facilitators led the sessions and professional educators provided mental health, physical activity, and other anxiety and worry-management strategies. Early results suggest the intervention may be effective. As this was a practical program, with tremendous potential to be tested again, modified for other vulnerable populations, and eventually implemented into care, exploring how to optimize the SPIN-CHAT Program and study is necessary. Collecting multiple perspectives from participants, facilitators, professional educators, and trial management can provide in-depth information from differing viewpoints to explore benefits accrued, identify aspects of the SPIN-CHAT Program and study were and were not helpful, determine acceptability, and guide improvement efforts. Ultimately, this project will identify ways to improve the SPIN-CHAT Program and study to ensure a greater number of vulnerable individuals can receive this intervention.

With funding from the Government of Canada

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