SlowMo trial launch - an innovative digital therapy for paranoia

The SlowMo trial launch - an innovative digital therapy for paranoia

A randomised controlled trial for SlowMo, the first digital therapy for paranoia, has just been launched in London, Sussex and Oxford.

The trial team, funded jointly by the Medical Research Council and National Institute for Health Research, will be recruiting participants from the Psychosis CAG in SLaM over the next two years.

Paranoid thoughts are one of the most common symptoms of severe mental health problems, and are associated with significant distress and disability.  But pharmacological and psychological treatments have limited effectiveness, so innovation is needed urgently. 

SlowMo is the culmination of three decades of research, led by Professor Philippa Garety (Clinical Director and Joint Lead for the Psychosis CAG).  This work initially found that fast thinking habits contribute to paranoia, and a talking therapy promoting slower thinking showed promise in helping people cope with their concerns. 

Professor Garety’s team then focused on improving the usability of the intervention to address common challenges with therapy access, engagement and adherence.  The result, SlowMo, is an easy-to-use, memorable and enjoyable digital therapy, a development led by Dr Amy Hardy of KCL and SLAM, in collaboration with service users, clinicians, inclusive healthcare designers and technologists.  

SlowMo works by supporting people to notice their upsetting worries and fast thinking habits, and then provides tips to help them slow down their thinking and cope with paranoia.  It consists of eight face-to-face sessions with a therapist, assisted by a website with interactive stories and exercises.  This synchronises with a mobile app for use outside sessions, extending the reach of therapy to people’s daily lives.

SlowMo supports people to visualise the invisible, by showing worries as spinning bubbles.  This simple metaphor helps people understand that thoughts are transient, and there are things they can do to slow down and pop them!  Initial feedback about SlowMo has been very positive, with people indicating it has helped them manage their fears and get more out of life. 

The SlowMo trial will find out whether SlowMo reduces paranoia, and if it works by improving slow thinking. Three hundred and sixty people with schizophrenia-spectrum diagnoses in total across three sites (120 from SLAM) will be randomly allocated to continue with their usual care, or receive SlowMo plus their usual care, and followed up over 6 months. If SlowMo is found to be effective, Professor Garety’s team plans to make it freely available in the NHS. 

Please contact Dr Tom Ward, SlowMo Trial Co-ordinator, to refer service users to the project.  Email: thomas.ward@slam.nhs.uk

For more infomation about the trial visit website www.slowmotherapy.co.uk

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