Evidence Synthesis of Digital Interventions to Mitigate the Negative Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic on Public Mental Health: Rapid Meta-review

C. Rauschenberg*, A. Schick, D. Hirjak, A. Seidler, I. Paetzold, C. Apfelbacher, S.G. Riedel-Heller, U. Reininghaus

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journal(Systematic) Review article peer-review

45 Citations (Web of Science)

Abstract

Background: Accumulating evidence suggests the COVID-19 pandemic has negative effects on public mental health. Digital interventions that have been developed and evaluated in recent years may be used to mitigate the negative consequences of the pandemic. However, evidence-based recommendations on the use of existing telemedicine and internet-based (eHealth) and app-based mobile health (mHealth) interventions are lacking.Objective: The aim of this study was to investigate the theoretical and empirical base, user perspective, safety, effectiveness, and cost-effectiveness of digital interventions related to public mental health provision (ie, mental health promotion, prevention, and treatment of mental disorders) that may help to reduce the consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic.Methods: A rapid meta-review was conducted. The MEDLINE, PsycINFO, and CENTRAL databases were searched on May 11, 2020. Study inclusion criteria were broad and considered systematic reviews and meta-analyses that investigated digital tools for health promotion, prevention, or treatment of mental health conditions and determinants likely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.Results: Overall, 815 peer-reviewed systematic reviews and meta-analyses were identified, of which 83 met the inclusion criteria. Our findings suggest that there is good evidence on the usability, safety, acceptance/satisfaction, and effectiveness of eHealth interventions. Evidence on mHealth apps is promising, especially if social components (eg, blended care) and strategies to promote adherence are incorporated. Although most digital interventions focus on the prevention or treatment of mental disorders, there is some evidence on mental health promotion. However, evidence on process quality, cost-effectiveness, and long-term effects is very limited.Conclusions: There is evidence that digital interventions are particularly suited to mitigating psychosocial consequences at the population level. In times of physical distancing, quarantine, and restrictions on social contacts, decision makers should develop digital strategies for continued mental health care and invest time and efforts in the development and implementation of mental health promotion and prevention programs.
Original languageEnglish
Article number23365
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Medical Internet Research
Volume23
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 10 Mar 2021

Keywords

  • COVID-19
  • digital intervention
  • digital mental health
  • eHealth
  • intervention
  • mHealth
  • mental health promotion
  • prevention
  • public mental health
  • telemedicine
  • SUBSTANCE USE
  • MOBILE TECHNOLOGIES
  • ANXIETY
  • TECHNOLOGY-BASED INTERVENTIONS
  • SOCIAL MEDIA
  • CLINICAL-EFFICACY
  • YOUNG-PEOPLE
  • COGNITIVE-BEHAVIOR THERAPY
  • INTERNET-BASED INTERVENTIONS
  • ECOLOGICAL MOMENTARY INTERVENTIONS

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