Facilitating Assessment Of At-Risk Sailors With Technology (FAAST)
Principal Investigator: 

Lisa Brenner, Ph.D.

Rocky Mountain Regional VA Medical Center, Mental Illness Research, Education, and Clinical Center (MIRECC)

Naval personnel experience concerning levels of anxiety, stress, and suicidal ideation while deployed. Moreover, periods of post-deployment transition, during which Sailors are faced with home-front related stressors have been shown to be particularly risky. To prevent suicide among those who have served, novel, non-stigmatizing, and portable upstream suicide prevention interventions are needed. Using smartphone technology, real-time data regarding individuals' behaviors, mood, and symptoms can be recorded, stored, displayed, and monitored by self and others.

In specific, technology developed by the Cogito Corporation (Cogito Companion), and evaluated by Dr. Lisa Brenner and her research team has the capability to enable military personnel self-care, and facilitate early identification of behaviors and symptoms related to increased risk for suicide (e.g., isolation, depression), as well as promote treatment engagement.

In this randomized controlled trial, Sailors are being allocated to experimental (Cogito Companion) or Active Control groups. Dr. Brenner aims to evaluate the efficacy of the Cogito Companion as an upstream suicide prevention intervention and evaluate the acceptability and feasibility of this technology among military personnel. The team will then identify patterns of distress, depressive symptoms, posttraumatic symptoms, suicide-related thoughts, and perceived physical and psychological health functioning among Naval personnel over the course of the study, as well as within the Cogito Companion and Active Control groups.

Establishing the efficacy of an intervention based on smartphone technology, which can collect real-time data regarding an individual's behaviors, mood, and symptoms, facilitate monitoring, and promote treatment engagement, has direct military relevance in that the intervention has the potential to promote wellness and help-seeking behaviors, as well as prevent suicide among Naval personnel during the post-deployment phase.