App Usage Increases Treatment Compliance and Sessions for Women in Appalachia

A study of southeastern Kentucky women receiving mandated treatment for substance use disorder (SUD) revealed encouraging results for a group with access to the CHESS Health Connections smartphone app. The women using the app, part of CHESS Health’s eRecovery solution, stayed in compliance with treatment 157% longer and received 227% more service units than the group without it, researchers found. 

Based on these results, researchers concluded that the use of the Connections app, along with intensive outpatient treatment, has the potential to improve long-term recovery rates for women with SUD in impoverished and/or rural areas. 

The Connections app provided critical assistance to the women in Appalachia by offering them recovery support, information, and monitoring without restrictions on time or place. It filled gaps in care created by an overstressed healthcare system and the challenges of regular attendance at in-person meetings and appointments in rural areas. 

The study of de-identified patient data revealed strong and sustained use of the app’s social and communication features, which enabled patients to connect with their counselors and other group members as often as needed. A weekly survey delivered through the app provided information on the patient’s day-to-day status to counselors, laying the groundwork for treatment sessions. Patients also were highly engaged with in-app discussion groups and private messages, creating a sense of camaraderie that enhanced group sessions and other treatment services. 

Key Results.

  • Remained in treatment 157% longer.
  • Received 227% more units of treatment

A counselor at Kentucky River Community Care (KRCC), the agency serving the women in the study, said the app “made a major difference for every woman. They always had access to someone to help.”

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration funded the research. Data was collected from two groups, the group with access to the app and a control group, receiving care from KRCC between February 2012 and August 2014. 

Read the full research paper, Using Smartphones to Improve Treatment Retention Among Impoverished Substance-Using Appalachian Women: a Naturalistic Study, to learn more about how the CHESS Health Connections app helped improve access to and retention in continuing recovery care for women in southeastern Kentucky.

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