Characterizing Participation and Perceived Engagement Benefits in an Integrated Digital Behavioral Health Recovery Community for Women: A Cross-Sectional Survey

Citation:

B. Curtis, B.G. Bergman, A. Brown, J. McDaniel, K. Harper, E. Eisenhart, M. Hufnagel, A. T. Heller, and R. Ashford. 2019. “ Characterizing Participation and Perceived Engagement Benefits in an Integrated Digital Behavioral Health Recovery Community for Women: A Cross-Sectional Survey.” JMIR Mental Health, 6, 8, Pp. e13352. Publisher's Version

Abstract:

BACKGROUND:

Research suggests that digital recovery support services (D-RSSs) may help support individual recovery and augment the availability of in-person supports. Previous studies highlight the use of D-RSSs in supporting individuals in recovery from substance use but have yet to examine the use of D-RSSs in supporting a combination of behavioral health disorders, including substance use, mental health, and trauma. Similarly, few studies on D-RSSs have evaluated gender-specific supports or integrated communities, which may be helpful to women and individuals recovering from behavioral health disorders.

OBJECTIVE:

The goal of this study was to evaluate the SHE RECOVERS (SR) recovery community, with the following 3 aims: (1) to characterize the women who engage in SR (including demographics and recovery-related characteristics), (2) describe the ways and frequency in which participants engage with SR, and (3) examine the perception of benefit derived from engagement with SR.

METHODS:

This study used a cross-sectional survey to examine the characteristics of SR participants. Analysis of variance and chi-square tests, as well as univariate logistic regressions, were used to explore each aim.

RESULTS:

Participants (N=729, mean age 46.83 years; 685/729, 94% Caucasian) reported being in recovery from a variety of conditions, although the most frequent nonexclusive disorder was substance use (86.40%, n=630). Participants had an average length in recovery (LIR) of 6.14 years (SD 7.87), with most having between 1 and 5 years (n=300). The most frequently reported recovery pathway was abstinence-based 12-step mutual aid (38.40%). Participants reported positive perceptions of benefit from SR participation, which did not vary by LIR or recovery pathway. Participants also had high rates of agreement, with SR having a positive impact on their lives, although this too did vary by recovery length and recovery pathway. Participants with 1 to 5 years of recovery used SR to connect with other women in recovery at higher rates, whereas those with less than 1 year used SR to ask for resources at higher rates, and those with 5 or more years used SR to provide support at higher rates. Lifetime engagement with specific supports of SR was also associated with LIR and recovery pathway.

CONCLUSIONS:

Gender-specific and integrated D-RSSs are feasible and beneficial from the perspective of participants. D-RSSs also appear to provide support to a range of recovery typologies and pathways in an effective manner and may be a vital tool for expanding recovery supports for those lacking in access and availability because of geography, social determinants, or other barriers.