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INV 19-022 – HSR Study

INV 19-022
Mobile App for the Prevention of Suicide
Jennifer Marie Primack, PhD MA
Providence VA Medical Center, Providence, RI
Providence, RI
Funding Period: October 2019 - March 2022


Suicide is a critical issue facing Veterans. Veterans and military personnel account for 18% of all known suicides in the United States, yet only comprise 8.5% of the national population. Despite development of new treatments and initiatives for suicide prevention, rates have continued to climb. Many suicide risk factors are tied to emotional states or other factors that change across time and situation. Situationally-experienced factors such as anger, impulsivity, and negative emotional states are some examples of constructs that have been found to play a role in the emergence of specific episodes of suicide behavior. Given the contextual nature of these risk factors, traditional assessment and therapy approaches may be limited in their ability to address acute suicide risk. Our research team has partnered with a software company to develop a HIPAA compliant, encrypted EMA-based mobile app for suicide prevention titled Mobile App for the Prevention of Suicide (MAPS). MAPS utilizes Ecological momentary Assessment (EMA) to determine acute suicide risk. When risk is detected, MAPS provides coping strategies or refers patients to the suicide hotline or emergency services. MAPS is a personalized intervention that allows patients to input their personalized safety plan, inspirational photos, and contact information for support people. It also includes a patient dashboard that can be used by clinicians to monitor patient risk over time when they are outside of the office and a communication platform between provider and patient. The primary aims of phase I of this innovation project are to: 1) finalize development of MAPS (e.g., add additional resources and enhance the interface) and 2) create a framework for implementation and dissemination of the app within VA standard of care. The long-term goals for phase II will be to establish the efficacy of MAPS and work with our identified partners to initiate implementation of the mobile app program once efficacy has been established. Innovation: To our knowledge, MAPS would be the first mobile app to utilize EMI to reduce suicide behaviors in Veterans. MAPS leverages a number of innovative technologies, using an EMI approach to account for situational context, facilitating bidirectional communication between patients and providers, and is available to Veterans 24 hours a day. Together, these capabilities deliver a more personalized and relevant intervention, with the potential to enhance treatment availability and engagement. MAPS allow us to more accurately predict suicide risk and to tailor the intervention to the specific needs of a specific veteran in a specific situation.

External Links for this Project

NIH Reporter

Grant Number: I01HX002972-01

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None at this time.

DRA: Mental, Cognitive and Behavioral Disorders, Substance Use Disorders
DRE: TRL - Applied/Translational
Keywords: Suicide
MeSH Terms: None at this time.

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