Mobile Phone Cognitive Bias Modification Research Platform for Substance Use Disorders: Protocol for a Feasibility Study.

Journal Title: 
Publication Date: 
Jan 01, 0000

BACKGROUND: Cognitive biases refer to automatic attentional and interpretational tendencies, which could be retained by cognitive bias modification interventions. Cristea et al and Jones et al have published reviews (in 2016 and 2017 respectively) on the effectiveness of such interventions. The advancement of technologies such as electronic health (eHealth) and mobile health (mHealth) has led to them being harnessed for the delivery of cognitive bias modification. To date, at least eight studies have demonstrated the feasibility of mobile technologies for the delivery of cognitive bias modification. Most of the studies are limited to a description of the conventional cognitive bias modification methodology that has been adopted. None of the studies shared the developmental process for the methodology involved, such that future studies could adopt it in the cost-effective replication of such interventions.

OBJECTIVE: It is important to have a common platform that could facilitate the design and customization of cognitive bias modification interventions for a variety of psychiatric and addictive disorders. It is the aim of the current research protocol to describe the design of a research platform that allows for customization of cognitive bias modification interventions for addictive disorders.

METHODS: A multidisciplinary team of 2 addiction psychiatrists, a psychologist with expertise in cognitive bias modification, and a computer engineer, were involved in the development of the intervention. The proposed platform would comprise of a mobile phone version of the cognitive bias task which is controlled by a server that could customize the algorithm for the tasks and collate the reaction-time data in realtime. The server would also allow the researcher to program the specific set of images that will be present in the task. The mobile phone app would synchronize with the backend server in real-time. An open-sourced cross-platform gaming software from React Native was used in the current development.

RESULTS: Multimedia Appendix 1 contains a video demonstrating the operation of the app, as well as a sample dataset of the reaction times (used for the computation of attentional biases) captured by the app.

CONCLUSIONS: The current design can be utilized for cognitive bias modification across a spectrum of disorders and is not limited to one disorder. It will be of value for future research to utilize the above platform and compare the efficacy of mHealth approaches, such as the one described in this study, with conventional Web-based approaches in the delivery of attentional bias modification interventions.