BACKGROUND: Electronic mental health interventions (eMental health or eMH) can be used to increase accessibility of mental health services for mood disorders, with indications of comparable clinical outcomes as face-to-face psychotherapy. However, the actual use of eMH in routine mental health care lags behind expectations. Identifying the factors that might promote or inhibit implementation of eMH in routine care may help to overcome this gap between effectiveness studies and routine care.
OBJECTIVE: This paper reports the results of a systematic review of the scientific literature identifying those determinants of practices relevant to implementing eMH for mood disorders in routine practice.
METHODS: A broad search strategy was developed with high sensitivity to four key terms: implementation, mental health care practice, mood disorder, and eMH. The reach, effectiveness, adoption, implementation, and maintenance (RE-AIM) framework was applied to guide the review and structure the results. Thematic analysis was applied to identify the most important determinants that facilitate or hinder implementation of eMH in routine practice.
RESULTS: A total of 13,147 articles were screened, of which 48 studies were included in the review. Most studies addressed aspects of the reach (n=33) of eMH, followed by intervention adoption (n=19), implementation of eMH (n=6), and maintenance (n=4) of eMH in routine care. More than half of the studies investigated the provision of mental health services through videoconferencing technologies (n=26), followed by Internet-based interventions (n=20). The majority (n=44) of the studies were of a descriptive nature. Across all RE-AIM domains, we identified 37 determinants clustered in six main themes: acceptance, appropriateness, engagement, resources, work processes, and leadership. The determinants of practices are expressed at different levels, including patients, mental health staff, organizations, and health care system level. Depending on the context, these determinants hinder or facilitate successful implementation of eMH.
CONCLUSIONS: Of the 37 determinants, three were reported most frequently: (1) the acceptance of eMH concerning expectations and preferences of patients and professionals about receiving and providing eMH in routine care, (2) the appropriateness of eMH in addressing patients' mental health disorders, and (3) the availability, reliability, and interoperability with other existing technologies such as the electronic health records are important factors for mental health care professionals to remain engaged in providing eMH to their patients in routine care. On the basis of the taxonomy of determinants of practices developed in this review, implementation-enhancing interventions can be designed and applied to achieve better implementation outcomes. Suggestions for future research and implementation practice are provided.