BACKGROUND: Clinical decision aids are used in various medical fields to support patients and clinicians when making healthcare decisions. Few attempts have been made to implement such tools in psychiatry. We developed Treatment E-Assist (TREAT); a routine outcome monitoring based computerized clinical decision aid, which generates personalized treatment recommendations in the care of people with psychotic disorders. The aim of this study is to investigate how TREAT is used and evaluated by clinicians and how this tool can be improved.
METHODS: Clinicians working with TREAT during a clinical trial were asked to participate in semi-structured interviews. The Unified Theory of Acceptance and Use of Technology (UTAUT) was used as a sensitizing theory to structure a part of the interview questions. The transcripts were analyzed using inductive thematic analysis to uncover the main themes.
RESULTS: Thirteen clinicians (mean age: 49) of which eight psychiatrists and five nurse practitioners, participated in this study. Eight clinicians experienced TREAT as beneficial, whereas five experienced no additional benefits. Thematic analysis revealed five themes surrounding usage and evaluation of TREAT, views on TREAT's graphic representation of routine outcome monitoring results, guideline based treatment recommendations, contextual factors, effects on patients and effects on shared decision-making. Performance and effort expectancy were perceived as high by clinicians. The facilitating conditions were optimal and perceived social influence was low.
CONCLUSION: This article presents a qualitative evaluation by clinicians of a computerized clinical decision aid in psychosis care. TREAT was viewed by most clinicians as beneficial during their consultations. The graphic representation of routine outcome monitoring results was well-appreciated and provided input to discuss treatment planning with patients. The treatment recommendations did not change most treatment decisions but supported clinical reasoning. However, some clinicians were unconvinced about TREAT's benefits. The delivery, applicability and the availability of resources require improvement to increase TREAT's efficacy. Not all patients responded well to TREAT but the observed facilitation of shared decision-making is promising. All four predictors of the Unified Theory of Acceptance and Use of Technology were positively evaluated by the majority of clinicians.