Workplace telecommunications technology to identify mental health disorders and facilitate self-help or professional referrals

Am J Health Promot. 2011 Jan-Feb;25(3):207-16. doi: 10.4278/ajhp.100118-QUAN-14.


Purpose: Test the feasibility and impact of an automated workplace mental health assessment and intervention.

Design: Efficacy was evaluated in a randomized control trial comparing employees who received screening and intervention with those who received only screening.

Setting: Workplace.

Subjects: 463 volunteers from Boston Medical Center, Boston University, and EMC and other employed adults, among whom 164 were randomized to the intervention (N = 87) and control (N = 77) groups.

Intervention: The system administers a panel of telephonic assessment instruments followed by tailored information, education, and referrals.

Measures: The Work Limitation Questionnaire, the Medical Outcomes Questionnaire Short Form-12, the Patient Health Questionnaire-9, question 10 from the Patient Health Questionnaire to measure functional impairment, and the Perceived Stress Scale-4 and questions written by study psychiatrists to measure emotional distress and social support respectively. The WHO-Five Well-being Index was administered to measure overall well-being.

Analysis: Independent sample t-tests and χ(2) tests as well as mean change were used to compare the data.

Results: No significant differences on 16 of the 20 comparisons at 3- and 6-month time points. The intervention group showed a significant improvement in depression (p ≤ .05) at 3 months and on two Work Limitation Questionnaire subscales, the Mental-Interpersonal Scale (p ≤ .05) and the Time and Scheduling Scale (p ≤ .05), at 3 and 6 months respectively with a suggestive improvement in mental health at 6 months (p ≤ .10).

Conclusions: This is a potentially fruitful area for research with important implications for workplace behavioral interventions.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Feasibility Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mass Screening / methods
  • Mental Disorders / diagnosis*
  • Middle Aged
  • Occupational Health*
  • Referral and Consultation*
  • Self Care*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Telecommunications*