£1.3 million Wellcome funding awarded to SlowMo

Person is shown holding a mobile phone with the SlowMo app open. Another person is shown walking past them. The top of the screen displays the text "Hi Angela, what are you think about?'. In the middle of the screen, a worry bubble is shown which has the text 'Someone is following me'. The bottom of the screen says 'What is you thought? Tap the bubble to enter your thought or swipe to see previous thoughts'.

SlowMo, an inclusive, digitally supported therapy for paranoia, has been awarded £1.3 million funding by Wellcome to scale up in three NHS Trusts.

SlowMo has been developed by an interdisciplinary team led by the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience (IoPPN) at King’s College London, and supported by National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR) Maudsley Biomedical Research Centre (BRC). It is the first evidence based, UK Conformity Assessed (UKCA) marked digital therapeutic for treating paranoia.

After a successful clinical trial, a new version of SlowMo will be implemented in South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust, Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust and Cumbria, Northumberland Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust. The Wellcome funding will be used to further optimise SlowMo to improve outcomes, develop an automated training programme and evaluate its effectiveness and cost-effectiveness in routine care.

The SlowMo software is designed to accompany patients and therapists during in-person therapy sessions and extend into day-to-day life. It helps people manage worries by visualising their thoughts as fast spinning, grey bubbles, supporting recognition of unhelpful, fast thinking patterns. Slow spinning, coloured bubbles are used to shrink fears and help people feel safer and live well.

Developed in close collaboration with people with lived experience of psychosis, the therapy aims to overcome the widely recognised limitations of existing medications and talking therapies. These include poorer access, engagement, adherence and outcomes, particularly for marginalised groups. SlowMo employs inclusive, human-centred design to enhance therapy uptake and engagement across diverse service users, and targets an evidence-based mechanism in paranoia, fast thinking (intuition-based reasoning), to optimise therapy effects.

The first version of SlowMo was successfully tested in the largest randomised controlled trial of its kind, led by Professor Philippa Garety. The trial found robust evidence that SlowMo reduced worries and improved self-concept and quality of life, with effects sustained over six months. Mechanism analysis – statistical methods that examine how an intervention works, not just if it works – and a co-produced process evaluation showed it worked, as intended, by slowing down thinking. Dr Tom Ward, SlowMo Therapy Lead, reported evidence that the targeted intervention could be personalised to support engagement. Crucially, the trial also found that SlowMo overcame the ‘digital divide’, with strong user experience and outcomes for marginalised groups who are commonly technologically excluded.

To develop the new version, the King’s team is collaborating with the award-winning Special Projects, a design studio who specialise in human-centred design, and Bitjam, a software development company who develop ethical software solutions for positive social impact. Mindtech, a national centre for new mental health technologies, are joining the collaboration. In partnership with lived experience researchers and CHEATA, they will support the evaluation of the therapy’s implementation, and commercialisation. The team plan to scale up SlowMo across the NHS in the next five years.

Dr Amy Hardy, Clinical Psychologist Lecturer at King's IoPPN and SlowMo Co-founder said,

"We are delighted to have been awarded Wellcome funding. Our new interdisciplinary collaboration of people with lived experience, clinicians, implementation science researchers, designers and software developers are strongly positioned to translate SlowMo’s promising clinical trial findings to real world settings. We are confident that SlowMo can contribute to improving psychological therapy access, experience and outcomes for people with psychosis."

Read more about SlowMo

Stories of Research - SlowMo: Improving paranoia with blended digital therapy


Tags: Digital Therapies -

By NIHR Maudsley BRC at 20 Jan 2023, 10:15 AM

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