Universität Bielefeld

© Universität Bielefeld

Teilprojekt 1.4: Einsatz technischer Unterstützungssysteme zur Diagnose und therapeutischen Intervention von psychischen Erkrankungen (Katharina Suhre)

Short description
Since the number of asylum seekers in Germany rose exceptionally in the last two years (up to 890.000 in 20161) the integration of refugees in every aspect of life became a much discussed topic. Even though mental and physical health are a cornerstone of successful integration 2, many refugees in the European region don't receive adequate treatment 3. A variety of barriers to health care in Germany are responsible for this status, including language barriers, unclear asylum applications and missing consultations between different health care providers 4,5.

Even though it is known that posttraumatic disoders like PTSD impact neuropsychological and verbal tasks, school grades and lowers performance in language schools 6,7,8, the number of specialized treatment places in Germany for the high prevalance rate of mental disorders in refugees is not sufficient. Considering the smartphone as 'an essential piece of kit for millions as they travel'9, a smartphone-based application seems most suitable to reach the greatest possible number of refugees.

A number of applications regarding physical as well as mental health (e.g. PTSD Coach, Coach PTBS, AOK Health Navigator) are already accessible in different languages, but a focus on refugees and their specific needs is still missing.

Description 'Wellbeing Companion'
'Wellbeing Companion' is a therapy supporting eMental Health application. It provides therapists as well as patients a different interface, whereby the interface for the patient is realised as a smartphone app and the therapists interface as a web application, that can simply be accessed via a browser.
The goal of the application is to simplify certain parts of a therapy for patients, for example keeping of a mood diary as therapy homework, while simultaneously offering a fast and easy access and evaluation of these data for therapists. Important is the modular structure of the application, which will enable therapists to compile an individual application for the patient. This means that therapists can decide what part of the 'Wellbeing Companion' each of their patients should be able to use and which should be blocked. One can imagine this abot as follows: The app of the patient is at the beginning without any functionality. Their therapist will then be able to active in their own web application to select the patient und via easy 'clicking' unlock the different modules, e.g. slep diary, mood diary, etc. for this particular patient. The next time the patient starts their smartphone app, they will now be able to use all these unlocked parts of the app, that were not available before.

Connection 'Wellbeing Companion'
To allow a therapist to unlock parts of the application of a patient, the patient needs to be registered by the therapist. The registration process is extremely simple. The therapist will be able to select 'add patient' in their web application and thus generate a QR code, which then again can be scanned and confirmed by the smartphone application of the patient. Thus a connection between both applications can easily be set up and revoked any time. Connection Smartphone Webapplication Diagram


Interested in 'Wellbeing Companion'?
Students, who would like to participate in the project (project or thesis), interested researchers from affiliated fields or interested mental health specialists can just get in touch with me. I do always take pleasure in an exchange about the topic!


You can reach me via the following channels:
Phone: 49 (0) 521 | 106 3890
Mail: ksuhre@techfak.uni-bielefeld.de


Previous Presentation 'Wellbeing Companion'

  • 2017: Technology4Wellbeing, Dublin, Ireland: presentation 'Towards a Companion App Supporting Psychotherapy and Counseling of Refugees: Results from Expert Interviews'
  • 2018: eMental Health, Vancouver, Canada: Poster 'Towards a Companion App For Supporting Psychotherapy and Counseling of Refugees'

1. [BAMF 2016]
2. [A. Ager and A. Strang. Understanding Integration: A Conceptual Framework. Journal of Refugee Studies, 21, 2008.]
3. [H. Bradby, R. Humphris, D. Newall, and J. Phillimore. Public Health Aspects of Migrant Health: A Review of the Evidence on Health Status for Refugees and Asylum Seekers in the European Region. WHO Health Evidence Network Synthesis Reports. Copenhagen:WHO Regional Office for Europe, 2015.]
4. [M. Norredam, and A. Mygind and A. Krasnik. Access to Health Care for Asylum Seekers in the European Union ? A Comparative Study of Country Policies. European Journal of Public Health, 16:285?289, 2005.]
5. [A. Bischoff, P.A. Bovier, R. Isah, G. Françoise, E. Ariel and L. Loutan. Language Barriers Between Nurses and Asylum Seekers: Their Impact on Symptom Reporting and Referral. Social Science & Medicine, 57:503?512, 2003.]
6. [T. Elbert, M. Schauer, E. Schauer, et al. Trauma-related Impairment in Children ? An Epidemiological Survey in Sri Lankan Provinces Affected by Two Decades of Civil War and Unrest. Child Abuse & Neglect, 33:238?246.]
7. [A.E. Yasik, P.A. Siagh, R.A. Oberfield, and P.V. Halamandaris. Posttraumatic Stress Disorder: Memory and Learning Performance in Children and Adolescents. Biological Psychiatry, 61:382?388, 2007.]
8. [H.P. Söndergaard and T. Theorell. Language Acquisition in Relation to Cumulative Posttraumatic Stress Disorder Symptom Load Over Time in a Sample of Re-settled Refugees. Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics, 73:320?323, 2004.]
9. [Mason B. and D. Buchmann. ICT4Refugees: A Report on the Emerging Landscape of Digital Responses to the Refugee Crisis, 2016]