15th Nov 2016 Erik Van der Eycken

What about the patient’s acceptance across Europe ?

There is no such thing as THE EUROPEAN PATIENT in the same way as THE patient does not exist. Of course, we are all individuals, unique and different. Apart from the essential differences due to biological and genetical aspects, our environment(s)  play a huge role in who we are, what we (can) do, how we think…. This is also the case when we look at the  (access and use of) mental health care, more specific E-mental health care within the context of MasterMind. The Patient Advisory Board meetings, organised and chaired by GAMIAN-Europe, have taught us more about the barriers and success factors with respect to  the large scale implementation of the use of ICT services in different political, social, economic and technical health care contexts, taking the patient perspective into account.We hope that this knowledge will feed into practical recommendations for successful strategies of the implementation of cCBT and video conferencing for depression in different settings.

Considering the overall goal and themes of  MasterMind : “pave the way for equal access to quality mental health care across Europe”, there is still a long way to go, with the focus on the patient’s environmental conditions :

  • Accessibility and equity: All European citizens suffering from depression should have equal access to high quality treatment.
  • Collaboration: Countries and regions within Europe should collaborate in order to exchange knowledge to optimise treatment for depression.
  • Self-management: All citizens suffering from depression, who are able to, and who would benefit from it, should have the opportunity of managing their own mental health.

The needs and requirements for the patient’s acceptance of  technology enabled mental health services was the topic of discussion of the Patient Advisory Board in Vienna on 16 September 2016.
16 Representatives of national patient organisations from 14 European countries(*) attended this meeting. It is interesting to see that only a very few of the represented countries are involved in the MasterMind project.
The fact that most representatives say that less than 5% of patients has experience with E-mental health in-use services might be explained by the situation in the participating countries themselves.  The lack of experience in these countries has the advantage that we could gain insight in which aspects can help create acceptance and a willingness to make use of these technology enabled therapies.

Below is a summary of the outcome of the discussion. A more elaborate report will be part of the deliverables of the project and could be presented on the occasion of MasterMind’s final Conference in 2017.

Patients’ view on :

ICT (e.g.  online-computerised therapy or video conferencing)might be considered as an acceptable option when :

  • At the start, there are personal contacts with ‘expert’, a therapist to explain how these services function
  • Questions/exercises should start with some kind of ‘self-scanning’, so that it gets ‘customised’ to the individual user.

The key priorities in terms of how the session is run, are :

  • The possibility to run one-to-one sessions where privacy is guaranteed but also sessions together with a family member or friend, if required.
  • An internet connection in 100% protected network.

Potential advantages of therapy delivered through video conferencing :

  • No travelling to hospital/therapist, so less costs
  • Have the chance to speak with the therapist/doctor more often.
  • In the countryside, it is easier to be ‘incognito’ as a patient in order not to be stigmatised by neighbours.

Possible disadvantages of therapy delivered through video conferencing :

  • No personal contact or less contact with the therapist
  • Getting used not to go outdoor and staying too much home

For more details on the feedback of the patients (e.g. a ranking of the importance of the different features of cCBT and the related services) and final conclusions, a little patience will be required until the  final reporting of the MasterMind project and . . .if you want to see the ‘Patient Advisory Board in action’, don’t miss the next vlog !

Patient Advisory Board

(*) Belgium(1), the Netherlands(2), Portugal(1), Sweden(3), Cyprus(1), France (1),  Slovakia (1), Croatia (1), Czech Republic(1), Slovenia(1), Romania(1)

One response to “What about the patient’s acceptance across Europe ?”

  1. Bill George says:

    Thanks Erik. It is helpful to have this report. Please keep us up to date with further deliberations.

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