An Intervention to Connect Patients With Psychosis and Volunteers via Smartphone (the Phone Pal): Development Study

Mariana Pinto da Costa*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Intervention development is a critical stage. However, evidence indicates that the substandard reporting of intervention details is widespread. Objective: This study aimed to provide an overview of the guiding frameworks, methodology, and stages for the design and construction of a new complex intervention—the Phone Pal. Methods: The intervention development process followed the Medical Research Council framework for developing complex interventions as well as the person-based approach. The intervention was developed following the evidence synthesis of a literature review, a focus group study, and a survey after consultation and input from advisory groups with a range of stakeholders, including patients, volunteers, clinicians, and academics. Results: The developed logic model outlines the contextual factors, intervention, mechanisms of change, and short- and long-term outcomes. The operationalized intervention required matching 1 patient with 1 volunteer to communicate with each other through a smartphone via SMS text messages, WhatsApp messages or email, and audio or video calls. Each participant was encouraged to communicate with their match at least once per week for a 12-week period using informal conversation. Conclusions: The systematic process and theoretically sound strategy through which this intervention was developed can provide insights to future researchers on the reality of developing and preparing the operationalization of a digital intervention using multiple components.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere35086
JournalJMIR Formative Research
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2022


  • design
  • development
  • digital mental health
  • intervention
  • intervention development
  • Medical Research Council framework
  • mental health
  • mental illness
  • mHealth
  • mobile health
  • mobile phone
  • MRC framework
  • psychosis
  • severe mental illness
  • smartphone
  • user centered design
  • volunteer
  • volunteering


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