A Conceptual Framework to Design Connected Mental Health Solutions in the United Arab Emirates: Questionnaire Study
Jan, Reem K
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Background: Connected mental health (CMH) is a field presenting information and communications technology–based mental care interventions that could help overcome many mental care delivery barriers. Culture and background influence people’s attitudes, preferences, and acceptance of such solutions. Therefore, the suitability of CMH solutions to the targeted population is an important factor in their successful adoption. Objective: The aim of this study is to develop a framework for the design and creation of CMH solutions suitable for the UAE context. The framework is based on investigating enablers and barriers of CMH adoption in the United Arab Emirates, from the mental health professional's (MHP) perspective and from related literature. Methods: A survey of literature on relevant studies addressing the use of technology for mental care in Arab countries, and a web-based questionnaire-based survey with 17 MHPs practicing in the United Arab Emirates investigating their attitudes and views toward CMH was conducted. Results from the questionnaire and from related studies were analyzed to develop the design framework. Results: On the basis of findings from the literature survey and analyzing MHP answers to the web-based survey, a framework for the design of CMH solutions for the UAE population was developed. The framework presents four types of recommendation categories: favorable criteria, which included blended care, anonymity, and ease of use; cultural factors including availability in multiple languages, mainly Arabic and English, in addition to religious and cultural considerations; technical considerations, including good-quality communication, availability in formats compatible with mobile phones, and providing technical support; and users’ health and data safety considerations, including users’ suitability testing, confidentiality, and ensuring MHP integrity. Conclusions: CMH has the potential to help overcome many mental care barriers in the United Arab Emirates in particular and in the Arab world in general. CMH adoption in the United Arab Emirates has a potential for success. However, many factors should be taken into account, mainly cultural, religious, and linguistic aspects.
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