Category: Technology


Development and Usability of an Online Mental Health Program for Medical Students

Sunday, November 19
8:30 AM - 10:00 AM
Location: Sapphire Ballroom E & F, Level 4, Sapphire Level

Keywords: Prevention | Student Issues | Technology / Mobile Health
Presentation Type: Symposium

Medical school presents a period of significant psychological distress, with levels of overall student distress rated consistently higher than age-matched peers. Despite having seemingly easier access to care, medical students are less likely than the general population to receive appropriate treatment. Students report high levels of barriers to mental health treatment, including concerns about taking time off, stigma, and privacy concerns that their fellow students or attending physicians will learn about their seeking treatment.

To address the needs of medical students, we developed a 6-week module-based online mood management program based in cognitive behavior therapy (ThinkFeelDo). We ran a usability study to gather feedback from a sample of 16 medical students (M age = 25.4 years, 50% female) and to examine the impact of the program on development of cognitive and behavioral coping skills. Participants were encouraged to log into the program 2-3 times per week and the program was designed for use without the support of a mental health clinician. 

Over the course of the trial, students logged in an average of 11.9 times (SD = 9.8, range 3-35) and completed an average of 10 of the 14 available lessons (SD = 4, range: 3 – 14). All participants used at least one of the tools. At end of program, participants increased the frequency with which they used cognitive and behavioral coping skills, t(10) = -3.400, p = .007. During feedback interviews, participants requested further refinement of lessons to better fit the typical narrative of a medical student, and endorsed interest in the program being offered at the beginning of medical school.

Results of this study highlight the potential utility of online mental health resources for medical students and provide insight on how to effectively integrate these programs into the medical school experience.

Jennifer Duffecy

University of Illinois at Chicago


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Development and Usability of an Online Mental Health Program for Medical Students

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