Innovative digital therapy helping patients with paranoia

A trial for SlowMo, the first digital therapy for paranoia, has been launched in Sussex following trials in London and Oxford.

Pharmacological and psychological treatments can have limited effectiveness for some patients, so this trial is causing a lot of excitement among clinicians keen to find a solution to help patients manage their symptoms and lead a better quality of life.

Senior Research Therapist, Dr Alison McGourty from Sussex Partnership Trust, said: “SlowMo is an app downloaded onto a mobile phone and patients participating in the trial are given a phone to use. Using SlowMo, we work with the person to identify their worries, and then help them find ways to slow down and take a moment when they notice their worries. The idea is that using the app to slow down and take another look at the situation, people can often realise that things aren’t as bad as they first feared or find other ways to manage their worries.”

“The great thing about SlowMo is that with the app, it’s always there to remind you about the things that you’ve talked through with the therapist, and can be easily used whenever someone feels worried about others.”

“Having worked as a psychologist with people who experience psychosis for over 10 years, this is a really exciting therapy to be involved with. It’s been carefully designed with service users to ensure that it’s easy to use as well as being helpful, and builds on decades of research by leading clinicians and academics in this field.”

The trial is funded by the EME Programme, an MRC and NIHR partnership, and aims to find out whether using the SlowMo app will help reduce paranoia.

360 people living with schizophrenia will be involved with the trial and followed up over six months. Prof Fowler and Dr Greenwood, from the University of Sussex have been working with Professor Garety and her team from King’s College London & South London & Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust and the other collaborators for several years developing this approach. Professor Fowler explains that “Preliminary evaluations of this new digital therapy and feedback from service users and clinicians show considerable promise. The SlowMo trial will provide a definitive assessment of its effectiveness”. If the trial shows benefit for patients Professor Garety hopes to make it freely available across the NHS.