EPSRC Funds Lincoln Research into Cognitive Behavioural Therapy and Social Networks

Dr. Shaun Lawson, Reader at the Lincoln School of Computing Science, leads the ENACT project team which has secured just under £500K from the EPSRC for a 28-month study to explore the effectiveness of online social networks in improving the uptake, adherence and completion rates of computerised cognitive behavioural therapy. From the EPSRC’s press summary:

The primary hypothesis of the ENACT project is that Computerised Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CCBT) programmes which replicate the interactive structure of online social media will be more effective at engendering user uptake and engagement than CCBT programmes that replicate the structure of traditional one-to-one therapy sessions. In order to examine the effects of enhancing CCBT with elements of online social technology, ENACT will concentrate on the development and enhancement of a CCBT ‘package’ for the treatment of insomnia. Users of the final application will: 1) be able to interact confidentially with and receive support from other users of the service; 2) be able report completion of daily activities via Online Social Networking and mobile phone applications; 3) receive feedback in an engaging manner on targets set and met; and 4) will generally be supported in their completion of the treatment package in a manner that reflects their usage of online social technology, and which fits conveniently into their daily liefstyle.

The multi-disciplinary nature of ENACT reflects the University’s research strengths in both Computing and Healthcare: Prof. Niro Siriwardena, Foundation Professor in Primary Care at Lincoln, brings his national expertise on primary care improvement to the project. In particular, ENACT will draw on Niro’s work on sleep disorders and their treatment, which was developed in the REST (Resources for Effective Sleep Treatment) project funded by the Health Foundation.

Dr. Kevin Morgan from Loughborough University and Dr. Kate Cavanagh from University of Sussex provide expertise on Human-Computer Interaction and Cognitive science applications in ICT.

The research in ENACT builds on previous funded work by Shaun, Dr. Conor Linehan and others in the Lincoln Social Computing Research Centre (LiSC) into how online social networks such as Facebook affect communication and cooperation. Other LiSC projects include the EU-funded PASION (Psychologically augmented social interaction over networks) and Microsoft-funded work on a comparison between human-dog interaction and human-computer interaction.

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