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The Pocket Skills Study

Researcher bios and how their research backgrounds relate to this study

I am a queer-identified psychologist and post-doctoral fellow at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health. As part of this current study, we are hoping to LGBT2SQ individuals (in tandem with our recruitment in the Rainbow program at CAMH) to provide greater access to dialectical behavior therapy to reduce alcohol and substance use. We know that LGBT2SQ individuals have higher rates of mental health and substance use issues and this study will provide pilot data to understand whether this intervention is feasible, acceptable, and effective for individuals. This pilot study will also provide insightful recommendations on how to support people using this webapp (e.g., should we add coaching or support along with the self-guided app).

Purpose of this research project

Overarching Goal of the Current Study: The proposed study seeks to evaluate the feasibility, acceptability, and efficacy of a low-cost, existing web-based application that delivers an evidence-based intervention (DBT-ST) called Pocket Skills to individuals who are seeking treatment for their mental health and substance use concerns. We will utilize a randomized, waitlist-control design, delivering the intervention to 50% of immediately, and comparing the effects of this intervention to 50% of participants who will receive the intervention after 4 weeks. This randomized waitlist-controlled trial format will inform an initial evaluation of this app compared to those waiting for services and whether it is suitable for both outpatients in tertiary care in addition to community treatment-seeking individuals. Given that individuals who identify as sexual minorities are more likely to present with mental health and substance use concerns but may prefer to not seek outpatient services due to stigma-related concerns, we will also incorporate recruitment methods to specifically recruit these individuals from both the outpatient CAMH system and the community. Initial offering of this intervention will provide pilot data and incorporate the feedback of patients to revise and improve the intervention.

How this research will help LGBT2SQ people and communities

Individuals who identify as LGBT2SQ have higher rates of mental health and substance use issues, yet may prefer not to seek care in an outpatient setting such as CAMH because of stigma-related stressors. Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) is a highly sought out skills training intervention that is rarely delivered outside outpatient settings. Here, we have built a self-guided DBT skills training app that potentially alleviate some of the symptoms of mental health and substance use and we are focused on recruitment of those in need of services such as this.

Participants

We are looking for people who are: 18 to 65, fluent in English, willing to comply with procedures (e.g., use the app, submit questionnaires), have access to the internet, have alcohol/substance use in the past month, have a past year alcohol/substance use disorder, report at least contemplation levels of change with respect to substance use problems, and not currently receiving any other psychosocial services (e.g., group or individual therapy).

Compensation

There is compensation of up to $70 for completing the periodic questionnaires as part of the study. This will be relayed to the participants at all stages of participation.

Mitigation measures

I am sensitive to the issues surrounding LGBT2SQ individuals and conduct all phone screens and baseline assessments with an inclusive, affirming, approach. As a psychologist I ensure that all participants are stable enough to start the study. Any adverse effects are documented throughout the study as reported. Participants are informed that worsening of symptoms should prompt them to contact their family doctor/medical team, use distress centre lines, or if necessary go to an ER.

Promoting the Study

We are contacting organizations in Ontario that are focused on LGBT2SQ individuals, are recruiting on site from our Rainbow program, online through websites such as e-mentalhealth.ca and kijiji, and through private clinics as well.

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