A Future Research Agenda for Digital Geriatric Mental Healthcare

Am J Geriatr Psychiatry. 2019 Nov;27(11):1277-1285. doi: 10.1016/j.jagp.2019.05.013. Epub 2019 May 23.


The proliferation of mobile, online, and remote monitoring technologies in digital geriatric mental health has the potential to lead to the next major breakthrough in mental health treatments. Unlike traditional mental health services, digital geriatric mental health has the benefit of serving a large number of older adults, and in many instances, does not rely on mental health clinics to offer real-time interventions. As technology increasingly becomes essential in the everyday lives of older adults with mental health conditions, these technologies will provide a fundamental service delivery strategy to support older adults' mental health recovery. Although ample research on digital geriatric mental health is available, fundamental gaps in the scientific literature still exist. To begin to address these gaps, we propose the following recommendations for a future research agenda: 1) additional proof-of-concept studies are needed; 2) integrating engineering principles in methodologically rigorous research may help science keep pace with technology; 3) studies are needed that identify implementation issues; 4) inclusivity of people with a lived experience of a mental health condition can offer valuable perspectives and new insights; and 5) formation of a workgroup specific for digital geriatric mental health to set standards and principles for research and practice. We propose prioritizing the advancement of digital geriatric mental health research in several areas that are of great public health significance, including 1) simultaneous and integrated treatment of physical health and mental health conditions; 2) effectiveness studies that explore diagnostics and treatment of social determinants of health such as "social isolation" and "loneliness;" and 3) tailoring the development and testing of innovative strategies to minority older adult populations.

Publication types

  • Editorial

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Geriatric Psychiatry / trends
  • Health Services Research / methods*
  • Health Services for the Aged / trends
  • Humans
  • Machine Learning
  • Mental Health Services*
  • Mental Health*
  • Telemedicine / trends*