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Implementation Strategies for Digital Mental Health Interventions in Health Care Settings


U.S. health care systems are tasked with alleviating the burden of mental health, but are frequently underprepared and lack workforce and resource capacity to deliver services to all in need. Digital mental health interventions (DMHIs) can increase access to evidence-based mental health care. However, DMHIs commonly do not fit into the day-to-day activities of the people who engage with them, resulting in a research-to-practice gap for DMHI implementation. For health care settings, differences between digital and traditional mental health services make alignment and integration challenging. Specialized attention is needed to improve the implementation of DMHIs in health care settings so that these services yield high uptake, engagement, and sustainment. The purpose of this article is to enhance efforts to integrate DMHIs in health care settings by proposing implementation strategies, selected and operationalized based on the discrete strategies established in the Expert Recommendations for Implementing Change project, that align to DMHI-specific barriers in these settings. Guidance is offered in how these strategies can be applied to DMHI implementation across four phases commonly distinguished in implementation science using the Exploration, Preparation, Implementation, Sustainment Framework. Next steps to advance research in this area and improve the research-to-practice gap for implementing DMHIs are recommended. Applying implementation strategies to DMHI implementation will enable psychologists to systematically evaluate this process, which can yield an enhanced understanding of the factors that facilitate implementation success and improve the translation of DMHIs from controlled trials to real-world settings. (PsycInfo Database Record (c) 2020 APA, all rights reserved).

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