Research

The DIALOG+ app

Summary

QMUL’s Dr. Purver and his team, in collaboration with Prof. Priebe from the medical school, have developed a mobile communication support tool which improves outcomes in community mental health care (DIALOG+) tested in clinical trials and adopted by NHS Trusts and healthcare services abroad and expecting to treat 1M patients by 2020.

The science: understanding communication in healthcare settings

Mental illness is “the biggest single cause of misery in UK society”, affecting 1 in 4 people, yet only 25% of sufferers receive treatment. Dr. Purver’s research group focuses on the basic mechanisms that underpin human-human communication, in particular the processes through which people detect and recover from miscommunication.  This is a critical issue in health communication; every 36 hours the NHS deals with over a million patients and each of these contacts generates multiple spoken interactions between patients and care teams and within care teams. Communication failure is both common and frequently safety critical.

Putting research into action: impact on mental health care through development of an app

The research on effective patient-centred communication informed the development of a practical tablet-based mobile app DIALOG+. The app structures patient-clinician meetings around a series of questions designed to elicit patient’s views on their quality of life and treatment and ensure follow-up. When the DIALOG+ is repeatedly used over six months, it has been shown to improve patients’ quality of life.  It is freely available (in 5 languages) and been taken up regionally with >6000 patients at any time and once taken up nationally will result in substantial improvements of quality of life for >15,000 patients. There is also international interest in the app as a core tool for establishing community mental health care in several low and middle income countries. As of October 2015 the app (Apple and Android platforms) has been downloaded over 500 times and has been used in over 5000 sessions.