Enhancing social functioning in young people at Ultra High Risk (UHR) for psychosis: A pilot study of a novel strengths and mindfulness-based online social therapy

M. Alvarez-Jimenez, J. F. Gleeson, S. Bendall, D. L. Penn, A. R. Yung, R. M. Ryan, D. Eleftheriadis, S. D'Alfonso, S. Rice, C. Miles, P. Russon, R. Lederman, R. Chambers, C. Gonzalez-Blanch, M. H. Lim, E. Killackey, P. D. McGorry, B. Nelson

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80 Scopus citations


Background: Psychological and pharmacological treatments have been shown to reduce rates of transition to psychosis in Ultra High Risk (UHR) young people. However, social functioning deficits have been unresponsive to current treatments. Aims: The study aims were to: i) describe the theoretical basis and therapeutic targets of a novel intervention targeting social functioning in UHR young people; and ii) examine its acceptability, safety and preliminary effect on social functioning. Methods: An international, multidisciplinary team developed a new intervention (MOMENTUM) to improve social functioning in UHR young people. MOMENTUM blends two novel approaches to social recovery: strengths and mindfulness-based intervention embedded within a social media environment, and application of the self-determination theory of motivation. The acceptability and safety of MOMENTUM were tested through a 2-month pilot study with 14 UHR participants. Results: System usage was high, with over 70% of users being actively engaged over the trial. All participants reported a positive experience using MOMENTUM, considered it safe and would recommend it to others. 93% reported it to be helpful. There were large, reliable improvements in social functioning (d = 1.83, p < 0.001) and subjective wellbeing (d = 0.75, p = 0.03) at follow-up. There were significant increases in the mechanisms targeted by the intervention including strengths usage (d = 0.70, p = 0.03), mindfulness skills (d = 0.66, p = 0.04) and components of social support. Social functioning improvement was significantly correlated with indicators of system usage. Conclusion: MOMENTUM is engaging and safe. MOMENTUM appeared to engage the hypothesized mechanisms and showed promise as a new avenue to improve social functioning in UHR young people.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)369-377
Number of pages9
JournalSchizophrenia Research
StatePublished - Dec 2018

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by grants from the Victorian Government's Mental Illness Research Fund (MIRF), the Telstra Foundation and the Colonial Foundation to Orygen, The National Centre of Excellence in Youth Mental Health. MA was supported via a Career Development Fellowship ( APP1082934 ) by the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC). The sponsors did not participate in the design or conduct of this study; in the collection, management, analysis, or interpretation of data; in the writing of the manuscript; or in the preparation, review, approval, or decision to submit this manuscript for publication.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018


  • At risk mental state
  • Functional recovery
  • Internet
  • Online


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