Promoting mental health for adults over 50: The Saxony Pilot

This article was published on behalf of the author: Julia Schellong, Nico Schultz, Antje Kögler (Clinic of Psychosomatic, Technical University Dresden); Kai Gand (Digital Health, Technical University Dresden) and Ulrike Sobczak ( Carus Consilium Saxony).

Isolation and mental distress during COVID-19 hit the older population particularly hard. The main objective of the Saxony pilot site is to strengthen mental health and overall well-being of people in the second half of life. An important target to achieve this is to improve social connectedness using easy available technologies combined with secure data exchange.

The Saxony pilot contributes three Reference Use Cases (RUCs) to the Gatekeeper project smart living homes:

  • RUC1 – lifestyle early detection and interventions
  • RUC7 – multi-chronic elderly patient management including polymedication
  • RUC9 – e-health solutions for the management of COVID-19

The medical app (intelli@ge) focuses on improving the (mental) health of people over the age of 50 by providing information about mental and physical health, available helplines and exercises to reduce stress (RUC1). Moreover, it includes questionnaires to gain more knowledge on mental health of users 50+ and especially, to understand more on the impact of COVID-19 on living conditions and on the usage of digital possibilities in health care (RUC9).

There are two intensity stages of the clinical studies: low and moderate.

Even if this use case is labeled as a study of low complexity there are some challenges that need to be overcome. Users have to keep at it independently all the time, even though they get prompts at intervals. At the beginning of the study, they complete a baseline survey, after 4-6 weeks the interim survey and after another 4-6 weeks the final survey. These are smaller surveys that take about 5-10 minutes each. All this data is collected via a smartphone in a secure way and is brought together and anonymised to understand more on mental health, age, and the outcomes of COVID. In order to do this, a large scale pilot will be carried out in the Gatekeeper project involving up to 10,000 users.

The moderate part of our studies is considered as an intervention of higher complexity (RUC1 and RUC7). Smartphones and smart watches are provided to check several health parameters and provide personalised feedback. Together with Samsung UK, the Gatekeeper app was developed focusing on social support and social connectedness. In this randomised controlled trial, the group that uses the Samsung health app and features independently are compared with a group that receives additional guidance on usage and tips and to a third group which uses none of the above.

A statement From Dr. Schellong “Everyone is welcome to take part in one of the studies and to contribute to the important issue on health 50plus!” says Dr Julia Schellong from the Medical Faculty Carl Gustav Carus at Technical University Dresden.

To engage the end users, another user workshop is scheduled for the 29th of November 2022, where we will bring together various users to discuss the intelli@ge app as well as the Gatekeeper Saxony App, evaluate its effectiveness and work out ways to improve and further develop them. The Saxony pilot is one of eight Gatekeeper pilots and is being carried out by Technische Universität Dresden and its subsidiary company Carus Consilium Sachsen.

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