Characterizing participation and perceived engagement benefits in an integrated digital behavioral health recovery community for women: A cross-sectional survey

Brenda Curtis, Brandon Bergman, Austin Brown, Jessica McDaniel, Kristen Harper, Emily Eisenhart, Mariel Hufnagel, Anne Thompson Heller, Robert Ashford

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations

Abstract

Background: Research suggests that digital recovery support services (D-RSSs) may help support individual recovery and augment the availability of in-person supports. Previous studies highlight the use of D-RSSs in supporting individuals in recovery from substance use but have yet to examine the use of D-RSSs in supporting a combination of behavioral health disorders, including substance use, mental health, and trauma. Similarly, few studies on D-RSSs have evaluated gender-specific supports or integrated communities, which may be helpful to women and individuals recovering from behavioral health disorders. Objective: The goal of this study was to evaluate the SHE RECOVERS (SR) recovery community, with the following 3 aims: (1) to characterize the women who engage in SR (including demographics and recovery-related characteristics), (2) describe the ways and frequency in which participants engage with SR, and (3) examine the perception of benefit derived from engagement with SR. Methods: This study used a cross-sectional survey to examine the characteristics of SR participants. Analysis of variance and chi-square tests, as well as univariate logistic regressions, were used to explore each aim. Results: Participants (N=729, mean age 46.83 years; 685/729, 94% Caucasian) reported being in recovery from a variety of conditions, although the most frequent nonexclusive disorder was substance use (86.40%, n=630). Participants had an average length in recovery (LIR) of 6.14 years (SD 7.87), with most having between 1 and 5 years (n=300). The most frequently reported recovery pathway was abstinence-based 12-step mutual aid (38.40%). Participants reported positive perceptions of benefit from SR participation, which did not vary by LIR or recovery pathway. Participants also had high rates of agreement, with SR having a positive impact on their lives, although this too did vary by recovery length and recovery pathway. Participants with 1 to 5 years of recovery used SR to connect with other women in recovery at higher rates, whereas those with less than 1 year used SR to ask for resources at higher rates, and those with 5 or more years used SR to provide support at higher rates. Lifetime engagement with specific supports of SR was also associated with LIR and recovery pathway. Conclusions: Gender-specific and integrated D-RSSs are feasible and beneficial from the perspective of participants. D-RSSs also appear to provide support to a range of recovery typologies and pathways in an effective manner and may be a vital tool for expanding recovery supports for those lacking in access and availability because of geography, social determinants, or other barriers.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere13352
JournalJMIR Mental Health
Volume6
Issue number8
DOIs
StatePublished - Aug 1 2019
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • MHealth
  • Mental health
  • Rehabilitation
  • Substance addiction
  • Substance use disorder

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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