Improving today’s treatments, building tomorrow’s
Millions of Americans suffer from poor quality of life and significant disability associated with mental illness and addiction. In addition, the American healthcare system is poorly prepared to deal with the needs of those suffering from these problems. As a result, people in need of care have trouble finding a doctor who can provide high quality care.
Sample Research Projects
Faculty at the Behavioral Research in Technology and Engineering (BRiTE) Center address these problems by using technology to improve the effectiveness of treatments and make them readily available to all those in need. The BRiTE Center is exploring whether technology can 1) improve the quality of existing behavioral health treatments, and 2) develop the next generation of behavioral health treatments. This work is only possible through interdisciplinary collaborations, in which BRiTE Center faculty partner with colleagues within and outside UW in areas such as Human-Centered Design, Engineering, Computer Science, and Biomedical Informatics. In addition, we partner with the technology industry, providing consultation on health technologies as well as conducting high-quality research evaluation of technologies.
David Atkins, PhD, directs the BRiTE Center, along with Associate Directors Patricia (Pat) Areán, PhD and Kari Stephens, PhD. Faculty include Amy Bauer, MD, MS, Kevin Hallgren, PhD, Aaron Lyon, PhD, Jeff Munson, PhD, and Jennifer Villatte, PhD.
Automated Feedback on Psychotherapy Quality
Psychotherapy, or “talk therapy,” has been shown to be highly effective for a variety of behavioral health problems. However, it is very challenging to evaluate the quality of psychotherapy, precisely because it is a conversation between provider and client. This program of research is developing and implementing a clinical software support tool, the Counselor Observer Ratings Expert for Motivational Interviewing (CORE-MI), which provides performance-based feedback on MI. The interdisciplinary research team includes addiction treatment experts, engineers, and computer scientists, and the end goal is to provide automated feedback for training, supervision, and quality assurance to maximize the effectiveness of MI for alcohol and substance abuse problems. Principal Investigator: David Atkins, PhD
Could psychotherapy software detect the sound of empathy? (HSNewsbeat)
Can Software Detect Empathy (KTCS 9)
Technology Supported Addiction Treatment
Research on psychotherapy for addiction reveals several things that support a patient’s long-term recovery, including reduced cravings, improved coping skills, and reduced substance use. However, in real world addiction treatment, these are not routinely measured, and there are few tools designed to help addiction treatment providers and patients keep track of improvements in these areas. In collaboration with colleagues in Human-Centered Design and at Harborview Medical Center, we are developing a tablet-based clinical support tool that will help providers and patients keep track of patient changes that are likely to their support long-term recovery from addiction. This tool will provide easy-to-understand feedback that could help facilitate conversation about barriers and facilitators of clinical improvements, which may also help inform treatment goals and clinical decision-making. Principal Investigator: Kevin Hallgren, PhD
Videogames to Enhance Cognitive Control… and Alleviate Depression
Depression affects all areas of an individual’s life, including how they feel, behave, and even think. Traditional treatments rely on in-person psychotherapy or medication, which require patients to travel to appointments and may have unwanted side-effects. The current research examines whether a videogame designed to enhance cognitive control, can also help improve symptoms of depression. In collaboration with an industry partner (Akili Interactive Labs, developer of Evo) and neuroscientists, this study will examine how playing a videogame may affect specific areas of the brain on the path to helping someone’s depression. Principal Investigator: Pat Areán, PhD