Psychiatric Quarterly

, Volume 84, Issue 1, pp 81–92 | Cite as

Build a Better Mouse: Directly-Observed Issues in Computer Use for Adults with SMI

  • Anne C. BlackEmail author
  • Kristin L. Serowik
  • Jean J. Schensul
  • Anne M. Bowen
  • Marc I. Rosen
Original Paper


Integrating information technology into healthcare has the potential to bring treatment to hard-to-reach people. Individuals with serious mental illness (SMI), however, may derive limited benefit from these advances in care because of lack of computer ownership and experience. To date, conclusions about the computer skills and attitudes of adults with SMI have been based primarily on self-report. In the current study, 28 psychiatric outpatients with co-occurring cocaine use were interviewed about their computer use and opinions, and 25 were then directly observed using task analysis and think aloud methods as they navigated a multi-component health informational website. Participants reported low rates of computer ownership and use, and negative attitudes towards computers. Self-reported computer skills were higher than demonstrated in the task analysis. However, some participants spontaneously expressed more positive attitudes and greater computer self-efficacy after navigating the website. Implications for increasing access to computer-based health information are discussed.


Technology Computer use Psychiatric 



This study was funded by National Institute on Drug Abuse: R01DA12952, R01DA025613.

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Anne C. Black
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Kristin L. Serowik
    • 1
    • 2
  • Jean J. Schensul
    • 3
  • Anne M. Bowen
    • 4
  • Marc I. Rosen
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Yale University School of MedicineNew HavenUSA
  2. 2.VA Connecticut Healthcare SystemWest HavenUSA
  3. 3.The Institute for Community ResearchHartfordUSA
  4. 4.University of WyomingLaramieUSA

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