Clinical Study Reveals Brain in Hand’s Digital System Helps Autistic Adults Reduce Anxiety Levels

A recently published study has demonstrated that Brain in Hand’s digital system can significantly reduce anxiety among individuals on the autism spectrum. Brain in Hand is a user-led digital self-management system that combines practical solution-focused coaching, simple digital tools, and 24/7 on-demand human support to empower users and promote their independence.

The groundbreaking independent study, published in the British Journal of Psychiatry, is the first of its kind to explore the impact of digital self-management in supporting autistic adults. Led by researchers from the University of Leicester and the University of Plymouth, and funded by the Small Business Research Initiative (SBRI Healthcare) program, the study aimed to determine whether providing digital support to autistic adults or individuals on the autism assessment waiting list could lead to more positive outcomes.

The study revealed that Brain in Hand had a significant influence on users’ ability to manage anxiety. This finding is particularly crucial for autistic individuals, who often grapple with anxiety, hindering their pursuit of a fulfilling life. Out of the 99 adults who identified as autistic and participated in the study, a staggering 96% were classified as experiencing anxiety based on the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale (HADS). Furthermore, 76% of those individuals were found to be grappling with moderate to severe anxiety.

The research also uncovered notable improvements in other aspects of quality of life. Scores related to self-injurious behavior on the Health of the Nation Outcome Scales (HoNOS) were halved, declining from a baseline of 1.30 to 0.58 during follow-up. Additionally, memory and orientation problems decreased from 0.88 to 0.47. The study also found significant reductions in communication problems, sleep problems, eating and drinking difficulties, and relationship issues. Brain in Hand also helped participants develop a stronger sense of self-awareness.

“The publication of this study is a fantastic achievement for everyone involved and a real positive step for innovative digital support,” said Mat Taylor, Commercial Director at Brain in Hand. “Too often, autistic individuals face significant challenges with anxiety but do not receive the help they need and deserve. We hope that this evidence of the effectiveness of our system will encourage more services to adopt tools like ours and assist more individuals who could truly benefit.”

Connor Ward, autistic consultant and Co-Production Lead at Brain in Hand, expressed enthusiasm about the potential impact of the digital system, stating, “For a lot of autistic people, anxiety can make it really hard to do the things we want to do and live life to the full. It’s really exciting to be part of something that could genuinely help a lot of people manage the challenges of day-to-day life better so they can focus on the things that matter most to them.”

The recently published manuscript was led by Dr. Samuel Tromans, Associate Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Leicester. The study itself was spearheaded by Professor Rohit Shankar MBE, Professor of Neuropsychiatry at the University of Plymouth.

Professor Shankar emphasized the importance of finding and researching therapeutic methods to support the more than 700,000 autistic individuals in the UK. He noted that while each autistic individual has unique experiences and needs, many suffer from chronic anxiety that significantly impacts their mental health. The development of the Brain in Hand app is just one tool that could provide vital assistance to autistic individuals, whether at home or elsewhere.

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