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Co-producing a guidance for patient and public involvement in digital mental health research

(the e-GAP study) 

What is the e-GAP study about?

The e-GAP study aimed to develop a guidance for patient and public involvement (PPI) in designing and carrying out research on digital mental health interventions (DMHIs). The guidance was designed to help structure PPI consultations for a wide range of digital interventions and tools and provides insight into how to make these consultations meaningful and beneficial.

Some of the key principles of the guidance can also be applied to the co-production of research more generally. This includes thinking about the type of people who are involved in a co-production project, at what stage they are involved, what can be done to include more underrepresented groups and how to navigate potential challenges.

Why is this research important?

Digital technologies and interventions (defined as patient-facing or self-administered interventions delivered through a digital platform) have an increasing role in mental health care. It is key to ensure that appropriate PPI is not overlooked when developing new DMHIs. The unique perspective offered by those with lived experience can improve study conduct and design, as well as ensure that interventions meet the needs of users, which may improve their quality and acceptability.

How was the guidance developed?

A series of co-production online workshops with people who have lived experience of mental health conditions were conducted. These included: a ‘brainstorming’ workshop, where initial ideas were formulated; a ‘prioritisation’ workshop, where initial ideas were prioritised in terms of perceived importance among participants; and ‘recommendations development’ workshops, where the prioritised ideas were refined. The guidance was then generated using these refined ideas and sent to several workshop participants for their feedback. This feedback was then incorporated into a final draft and approved by workshop participants.

What does the guidance include?

The guidance provides an insight into how to promote and maintain PPI, what to discuss during PPI consultations and what is important to include within DMHIs from those with lived experience of mental health conditions. It is intended for researchers who are interested in utilising PPI for DMHIs and want information on where to begin or have already begun to involve PPI and want to learn more.

To read the full e-GAP guidance document, please click hereLink opens in a new window.