Behavioral intervention technologies: evidence review and recommendations for future research in mental health

Gen Hosp Psychiatry. Jul-Aug 2013;35(4):332-8. doi: 10.1016/j.genhosppsych.2013.03.008. Epub 2013 May 8.


Objective: A technical expert panel convened by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality and the National Institute of Mental Health was charged with reviewing the state of research on behavioral intervention technologies (BITs) in mental health and identifying the top research priorities. BITs refers to behavioral and psychological interventions that use information and communication technology features to address behavioral and mental health outcomes.

Method: This study on the findings of the technical expert panel.

Results: Videoconferencing and standard telephone technologies to deliver psychotherapy have been well validated. Web-based interventions have shown efficacy across a broad range of mental health outcomes. Social media such as online support groups have produced disappointing outcomes when used alone. Mobile technologies have received limited attention for mental health outcomes. Virtual reality has shown good efficacy for anxiety and pediatric disorders. Serious gaming has received little work in mental health.

Conclusion: Research focused on understanding reach, adherence, barriers and cost is recommended. Improvements in the collection, storage, analysis and visualization of big data will be required. New theoretical models and evaluation strategies will be required. Finally, for BITs to have a public health impact, research on implementation and application to prevention is required.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Health Services Accessibility*
  • Humans
  • Mental Disorders / therapy*
  • National Institute of Mental Health (U.S.)
  • Patient Compliance
  • Psychiatry / methods
  • Psychotherapy / methods
  • Self-Help Groups
  • Social Media
  • Social Networking
  • Telemedicine / methods*
  • Treatment Outcome
  • United States
  • United States Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality
  • Virtual Reality Exposure Therapy