Background: Routine Outcome Monitoring (ROM) is a systematic way of assessing service users' health conditions for the purpose of better aiding their care. ROM consists of various measures used to assess a service user's physical, psychological, and social condition. While ROM is becoming increasingly important in the mental health care sector, one of its weaknesses is that ROM is not always sufficiently service user-oriented. First, clinicians tend to concentrate on those ROM results that provide information about clinical symptoms and functioning, whereas it has been suggested that a service user-oriented approach needs to focus on personal recovery. Second, service users have limited access to ROM results and they are often not equipped to interpret them. These problems need to be addressed, as access to resources and the opportunity to share decision making has been indicated as a prerequisite for service users to become a more equal partner in communication with their clinicians. Furthermore, shared decision making has been shown to improve the therapeutic alliance and to lead to better care.
Objective: Our aim is to build a web-based support system which makes ROM results more accessible to service users and to provide them with more concrete and personalized information about their functioning (ie, symptoms, housing, social contacts) that they can use to discuss treatment options with their clinician. In this study, we will report on the usability of the web-based support system for service users with schizophrenia.
Methods: First, we developed a prototype of a web-based support system in a multidisciplinary project team, including end-users. We then conducted a usability study of the support system consisting of (1) a heuristic evaluation, (2) a qualitative evaluation and (3) a quantitative evaluation.
Results: Fifteen service users with a schizophrenia diagnosis and four information and communication technology (ICT) experts participated in the study. The results show that people with a schizophrenia diagnosis were able to use the support system easily. Furthermore, the content of the advice generated by the support system was considered meaningful and supportive.
Conclusions: This study shows that the support system prototype has valuable potential to improve the ROM practice and it is worthwhile to further develop it into a more mature system. Furthermore, the results add to prior research into web applications for people with psychotic disorders, in that it shows that this group of end users can work with web-based and computer-based systems, despite the cognitive problems they experience.