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Crowdsourcing for Conducting Randomized Trials of Internet Delivered Interventions in People with Serious Mental Illness: A Systematic Review
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  • Alternative Title:
    Contemp Clin Trials
  • Description:
    Objective Online crowdsourcing refers to the process of obtaining needed services, ideas, or content by soliciting contributions from a large group of people over the Internet. We examined the potential for using online crowdsourcing methods for conducting behavioral health intervention research among people with serious mental illness (SMI). Methods Systematic review of randomized trials using online crowdsourcing methods for recruitment, intervention delivery, and data collection in people with SMI, including schizophrenia spectrum disorders and mood disorders. Included studies were completed entirely over the Internet without any face-to-face contact between participants and researchers. Databases and sources Medline, Cochrane Library, Web of Science, CINAHL, Scopus, PsychINFO, Google Scholar, and reference lists of relevant articles. Results We identified 7 randomized trials that enrolled N=1,214 participants (range: 39 to 419) with SMI. Participants were mostly female (72%) and had mood disorders (94%). Attrition ranged from 14% to 81%. Three studies had attrition rates below 25%. Most interventions were adapted from existing evidence-based programs, and consisted of self-directed education, psychoeducation, self-help, and illness self-management. Six studies collected self-reported mental health symptoms, quality of life, and illness severity. Three studies supported intervention effectiveness and two studies showed improvements in the intervention and comparison conditions over time. Peer support emerged as an important component of several interventions. Overall, studies were of medium to high methodological quality. Conclusion Online crowdsourcing methods appear feasible for conducting intervention research in people with SMI. Future efforts are needed to improve retention rates, collect objective outcome measures, and reach a broader demographic.
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