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Experimental Therapeutics for Digital Mental Health Interventions

Experimental therapeutics is a framework focused on measuring whether experimentally manipulated, hypothesized targets of an intervention produce changes in clinical outcomes. The process is defined as:

  1. Identify a hypothesized target.
  2. Examine if an intervention can engage the target.
  3. Examine if, by engaging the target, the intervention leads to changes in clinical outcomes. 

To date, experimental therapeutics for mental health interventions have focused on individual-level targets. We have proposed that experimental therapeutics should be expanded to include engagement as a target for digital mental health interventions.

Our conceptual model is shown in the Figure. Engagement can be defined and measured by subjective and objective units of analysis. These metrics can be evaluated as mediating factors that influence users’ response to digital interventions. Such work is important for understanding how to design digital mental health interventions that lead to improvements in clinical outcomes. 


Check out our paper for more information.

  • Graham AK, Lattie EG, Mohr DC. Experimental Therapeutics for Digital Mental Health. JAMA Psychiatry. 2019 Dec 1;76(12):1223-1224. doi: 10.1001/jamapsychiatry.2019.2075. PMCID: PMC7271442.

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