Brain in Hand study reveals digital self-management support leads to significant improvements in anxiety levels and quality of life for autistic adults

Brain in Hand study reveals digital self-management support leads to significant improvements in anxiety levels and quality of life for autistic adults

An innovator supported by the South West Academic Health Science Network (South West AHSN), Brain in Hand, has been featured in a first-of-its-kind study into digital self-management support for autistic adults, which has revealed a significant reduction in anxiety levels and improvement in quality of life.

The clinical study, conducted by CIDER (Cornwall Intellectual Disability Equitable Research) of Cornwall Partnership NHS Foundation Trust/University of Plymouth, in partnership with Brain in Hand, demonstrated that providing digital support to autistic adults, or people on the waiting list for autism assessment, can achieve positive psychological outcomes and help maintain their wellbeing.

Brain in Hand is a digital self-management system with built-in human support that empowers a person to do more for themselves and build their independence. It combines practical solution-focused coaching, simple digital tools and 24/7 on-demand human support.

Funded by the Small Business Research Initiative (SBRI Healthcare) programme, an Accelerated Access Collaborative initiative in partnership with the Academic Health Science Networks, including the South West AHSN, the study included autistic adults or those waiting for an autism assessment in seven NHS sites across England and Wales – including Cornwall and Devon.

The study used a combination of qualitative data, collected from a randomly selected sub-sample, as well as quantitative data, which was collected at two time points and used the Health of the Nation Outcome Scales for people with Learning Disabilities (HoNOS-LD) to measure the impact of Brain in Hand on quality of life, and the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale to assess for presence and change of anxiety and depression symptoms.

Dr Louise Morpeth, CEO of Brain in Hand, commented:

The results of this study are an exciting new development and prove how human-backed technology can make a huge difference to autistic people. Brain in Hand is going a long way in helping to provide support for individuals who need it, all the while easing the strain on costs and resources for healthcare providers too.”

Connor Ward, autistic advocate and influencer, and independent advisor to Brain in Hand for the SBRI funding application, said:

The world can be difficult for autistic people to navigate – it’s not designed for us. The challenges of living our day-to-day lives can cause real mental health problems and crises, but there are too many barriers for us to get the support we need. Something like Brain in Hand, technology that can help us manage our own needs and avoid bigger problems, could be a massive benefit in offering autistic people greater independence.”

Supporting the spread and adoption of Brain in Hand

As part of its commitment to supporting the spread and adoption of innovation across health and care systems within the South West, the South West AHSN is delighted to have worked with Brain in Hand to obtain a Phase 2 SBRI in 2021, in conjunction with Cornwall Partnership NHS Foundation Trust and Devon Partnership NHS Trust. In addition to funding the study into digital self-management support for autistic adults, ​the grant:

  • allowed Brain in Hand to deploy in the autism pathway in seven Trusts across the UK
  • funded improvements to the software to enhance functionality and ease of use
  • funded another independent research study to determine value for money for the health and social care system.

Our support also enabled Brain in Hand to achieve a place on the NHS Innovation Accelerator fellowship 2021. ​

William Lilley, Interim Portfolio Director at the South West AHSN, said:

We’re thrilled to see the impact that Brain in Hand’s technology has been able to have on improving the quality of life and reducing anxiety for autistic adults. The findings of this report clearly demonstrate the importance of working with our innovation community to help to support the spread and adoption of solutions and interventions which can help to improve people’s lives on both a regional and national scale.”

 

Find out more

If you’re an innovator looking to develop or expand your innovation across health and care systems in the South West, please visit our Innovation Exchange for details on how we can support you, or contact the team at innovation@swahsn.com for further information.

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