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J Consult Clin Psychol. 2016 Jun;84(6):544-57. doi: 10.1037/ccp0000093. Epub 2016 Mar 28.

A brief mobile app reduces nonsuicidal and suicidal self-injury: Evidence from three randomized controlled trials.

Author information

1
Department of Psychology, Harvard University.

Abstract

OBJECTIVE:

Self-injurious thoughts and behaviors (SITBs) are a major public health problem that traditional interventions have been unable to address on a large scale. The goal of this series of studies was to take initial steps toward developing an effective SITB treatment that can be easily delivered on a very large scale.

METHOD:

We created a brief (1-2 min), game-like app called Therapeutic Evaluative Conditioning (TEC), designed to increase aversion to SITBs and decrease aversion to the self. In 3 separate studies, we recruited participants with recent and severe histories of SITBs from web forums focused on self-injury and psychopathology (Ns = 114, 131, and 163) and randomly assigned them to receive access to the mobile treatment TEC app or a control app for 1 month. We tested the effect of TEC on the frequency of self-cutting, nonsuicidal self-injury more generally, suicide ideation, suicide plans, and suicidal behaviors.

RESULTS:

Analyses showed that, compared with the control app, TEC produced moderate reductions for all SITBs except suicide ideation. Across studies, the largest and most consistent reductions were for self-cutting episodes (32%-40%), suicide plans (21%-59%), and suicidal behaviors (33%-77%). Two of the 3 studies showed that TEC impacted its intended treatment targets and that greater change in these targets was associated with greater SITB reductions. TEC effects were not maintained at the 1-month posttreatment follow-up.

CONCLUSIONS:

Future versions of brief, mobile interventions like that tested here may have the potential to reduce SITBs and related behaviors on a large scale. (PsycINFO Database Record

PMID:
27018530
DOI:
10.1037/ccp0000093
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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