Health-related quality of life among members using an on demand behavioral health platform
Pilot observational study
Background: Despite the well-known adverse health conditions and negative economic outcomes associated with mental health problems, accessing treatment is difficult due to reasons such as availability and cost. As a solution, digital mental health services have flooded the industry, and new studies are quickly emerging that support their potential as an accessible and cost-effective way to improve mental health outcomes. However, many mental health platforms typically use clinical tools such as the Patient Health Questionnaire-9 (PHQ-9) or General Anxiety Disorder-7 (GAD-7). Yet, many individuals that seek out care do not have clinical symptomatology and thus, traditional clinical measures may not adequately capture symptom improvement in general well-being. As an alternative, this study used the health-related quality of life (HRQoL) tool from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention "Healthy Days" measure. This subjective measure of well-being is an effective way to capture HRQoL and might be better suited as an outcome measure for treatments that include both clinical and subclinical individuals.
Objective: The purpose of this study was to describe changes in HRQoL in clinical and subclinical members assessing virtual care and to examine the association between text-based behavioral coaching and virtual clinical sessions with changes in HRQoL.
Methods: A total of 288 members completed the 4-item HRQoL measure at baseline and at 1 month following use of the Ginger on demand behavioral health platform. Baseline anxiety and depression levels were collected using the GAD-7 and PHQ-9, respectively.
Results: Members completed on average 1.92 (SD 2.16) coaching sessions and 0.91 (SD 1.37) clinical sessions during the assessment month. Paired samples t tests revealed significant reductions in the average number of unhealthy mental health days between baseline (mean 16, SD 8.77 days) and follow-up (mean 13.2, SD 9.02 days; t287=5.73; P
Conclusions: To our knowledge, this study is one of the first to use the HRQoL measure as an outcome in an evaluation of a digital behavioral health platform. Using real-world longitudinal data, our preliminary yet promising results show that short-term engagement with virtual care can be an effective means to improve HRQoL for members with subclinical and clinical symptoms. Further follow-up of reported HRQoL over several months is needed.