John is undertaking his Honours degree in the School of Psychology at the University of Adelaide. He is based in the Mind and Brain Theme at SAHMRI and is being supervised by Dr Camille Short from the FFCMH and FFCMH affiliate Associate Professor Niranjan Bidargaddi. John has completed a Bachelor of Psychology at Monash University. He is a software engineer having also completed a degree in Science and Engineering (Honours).
John’s project: Dispositional traits, motivation and automaticity as determinants of adherence to ecological momentary assessments (EMAs) among distressed young adults (18-25 year olds).
One of the major challenges to providing health care and preventing suicide among young people is facilitating early intervention. Changes in mood can happen day-to-day or week-to-week, which is difficult to detect with traditional assessment methods (e.g., clinician intervention or surveys), and also difficult to address in a timely way with traditional intervention methods (e.g., weekly therapy sessions). Engaging young people in traditional interventions can also be difficult, especially in the case of young men. According to national Australian Bureau of Statistics data, 35% of people with a mental disorder had used any health service within the past year, with women far more likely than men to use services for mental health problems. One promising tool that can capture day-to-day fluctuations in mental health and may be used to design ‘just-in-time’ interventions is Ecological Momentary Assessment (EMA). EMA is a means for participants to report repeatedly on their real-time behaviour, experiences and mood in natural contexts under the influence of day-to-day dynamics. This approach may also have appeal among young men, as it affords anonymity and may be framed as a way of ‘taking control’. EMA output has been shown to predict mental health problems. In theory, it would be possible to present young people with a mobile or web application that helps them to track their mood in real time. This information could then be shared with health professionals, used by the individual to gain insights into their behaviour and cognitions and the influences on it, or indeed to develop digital interventions that are responsive to the data and provide ‘just-in-time’ support (e.g., report sent to family or friends, or person is called by national helpline). However, low adherence rates to use of EMAs currently limit their utility. John’s research will aim to understand in 18-25 year olds, who do adhere to EMA protocols, and the reasons why, in order to improve these protocols in the future.
We wish John all the best