First impressions

Seven participants with lived experiences of psychosis have been feeding back their experiences of beta testing EMPOWER to one of our researchers Amelie Burkhardt supervised by Andy Gumley.

Beta testing is a method of trying out software to iron out software bugs and initially explore user acceptability. We found some bugs and these are now being passed to our software manufacturer at the University of Manchester.

Amelie has been undertaking a qualitative study exploring individuals’ experiences of testing the EMPOWER App and their first impressions of how the App makes sense to them.

We’re still analysing the data but we have been really struck by the way in which the App creates a context for ‘Awareness and Learning’. So EMPOWER works by creating a daily questionnaire that prompts users to reflect on how they are feeling based on a number of core questions about mood, coping and experiences. When users complete the questionnaire, the App generates a message designed to prompt the users curiosity in different areas related to self management and recovery. Users seemed to appreciate how these questions prompted reflection on the ebb and flow of emotions and experiences in daily life:

“It made me think of things which I hadn’t really considered but which had been in the background”

In relation to users being able to personalise questions to their experience, one participant said:

“I think people that recognise their triggers will be able to use that feature quite well”

Messages seemed to relay information that was relevant and opened up areas that were potentially novel and useful too:

“I do feel the utility of the messages is – it’s giving people access to information and self-management they might not typically get from the NHS”

We appreciated hearing important experiences about how the App prompted new reflections that were valuable to participants. One person new to using Smartphones said:

“The App was a bit of a revolution in how to deal with you – how to manage your health”

Another person commented how the App might be a gauge for tuning into feelings more closely as a way to improve coping and relationships:

“It’s a good gauge of how I am gonna respond for a day – how I am gonna respond to other people”

People saw the value of the App for staying well. A key concern was that people had previous experiences of being hospitalised that were frightening and traumatic. Due to these experiences they understandably feel fearful of relapse and how other people might react.

“Having something to kind of track moods and also have someone at the end of the phone if I needed it is a good idea as well – rather than going at a full-blown relapse before I get help”

We’re still analysing these first impressions but we wanted to share with you some first impressions especially how a mobile App like EMPOWER can prompt reflections on the flow of emotions and experiences in daily life. Indeed these reflections can relate to important past experiences of psychosis and hospitalisation. Feedback suggests that these reflections might prompt a positive approach to staying well and exploring opportunities to self management.