Integrating digital interventions with employee wellbeing programmes: Employer perceptions

Gillian Cameron, David Cameron, Maurice Mulvenna, RR Bond, Edel Ennis, Siobhan O'Neill

Research output: Contribution to conferenceAbstractpeer-review

Abstract

Background: Engaging in meaningful work has potential to improve our mental health and foster well-being, however, more than 15% of individuals currently in work are experiencing symptoms indicative of a common mental health condition, primarily mild to moderate anxiety and depression. There is evidence these conditions can be either prevented or effectively treated in the workplace. However, left untreated these conditions are associated with increased absenteeism, presenteeism, under performance and reduced productivity.
Digital interventions implemented in the workplace are an efficient, effective, and scalable way to raise awareness and promote mental health and wellbeing initiatives to employees. Integrating digital interventions that have been generalised from clinical settings have displayed potential in the workplace, primarily those that employ cognitive behavioural therapy, stress-management or mindfulness-based stress reduction techniques. Despite this, there is a shortage of gold standard evidence to determine which interventions are effective for specific workforce populations alongside identifying those which may potentially cause harm. There is also a paucity of digital interventions integrated into real world care, prioritising the need for more exploration of how they are implemented effectively with clinician buy in. This study was conducted with Inspire, a social enterprise that delivers a range of mental health and wellbeing interventions to organisations across the UK & Ireland.
Aim: The overall aim of this study is to determine the acceptability and effectiveness of using a digital tool as a workplace wellbeing intervention, by investigating the perceived drivers of as well as barriers to use, benefits, and challenges and provide recommendations for future development.
Methods: Semi structured interviews were conducted with 14 employees from five sectors, recruited from Inspire’s customer base. Interview questions were guided by current literature and transcripts were analysed using thematic analysis. This study was approved by Ulster University’s Ethics Filter Committee.
Results: Digital interventions were considered most useful when implemented with an integrated care approach, where they are blended with face-to-face services. Time, lack of access to non-digital healthcare , and stigma surrounding face to face interventions were highlighted as potential drivers towards using a digital intervention. Benefits identified included 24/7 availability, ease of use, and how interventions can be used to support not only individual employees, but teams and colleagues. Challenges were associated with accessibility, particularly for non-office-based populations. Participants suggested the quality of digital interventions varies greatly, and barriers to use include connectivity problems, poor digital literacy and lack of equipment for non-office-based staff. When providing recommendations for improving digital interventions, participants suggested easy access to content delivered in short, “bite-sized” formats. Personalisation of content was also highlighted, including content tailored for specific workplace sectors, or personalised to their location, such as rural areas.
Conclusion: Digital interventions were perceived to be most useful and accessible when integrated into workplace wellbeing programmes, that include traditional mental health services, such as counselling. Multiple drivers of usage, benefits, challenges, and recommendations were identified by employers. Further understanding of how these recommendations can impact the effectiveness of integrating digital interventions into workplace wellbeing programmes should be explored.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 23 Apr 2024
EventInternational Conference on Integrated Care: Taking the leap: making integrated care a reality for people and communities - Belfast, United Kingdom
Duration: 22 Apr 202424 Apr 2024
Conference number: 24
https://integratedcarefoundation.org/events/icic24-24th-international-conference-on-integrated-care-belfast

Conference

ConferenceInternational Conference on Integrated Care
Abbreviated titleICIC24
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom
CityBelfast
Period22/04/2424/04/24
Internet address

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