University of Oulu

Drissi, N., Ouhbi, S., Amiri, L., Al Mugaddam, F., Jan, R. K., & Isomursu, M. (2022). A conceptual framework to design connected mental health solutions in the united arab emirates: Questionnaire study. JMIR Formative Research, 6(2), e27675.

A conceptual framework to design connected mental health solutions in the United Arab Emirates : questionnaire study

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Author: Drissi, Nidal1; Ouhbi, Sofia1; Amiri, Leena2;
Organizations: 1Department of Computer Science & Software Engineering, College of Information Technology, United Arab Emirates University, Abu Dhabi, AE
2Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Science, College of Medicine and Health Sciences, United Arab Emirates University, Al Ain, AE
3College of Medicine, Mohammed Bin Rashid University Of Medicine and Health Sciences, Dubai, AE
4Faculty of Information Technology and Electrical Engineering, University of Oulu, Oulu, FI
Format: article
Version: published version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 0.6 MB)
Persistent link:
Language: English
Published: JMIR Publications, 2022
Publish Date: 2022-08-11


Background: Connected mental health (CMH) is a field presenting information and communications technology–based mental care interventions that could help overcome many mental care delivery barriers. Culture and background influence people’s attitudes, preferences, and acceptance of such solutions. Therefore, the suitability of CMH solutions to the targeted population is an important factor in their successful adoption.

Objectives: The aim of this study is to develop a framework for the design and creation of CMH solutions suitable for the UAE context. The framework is based on investigating enablers and barriers of CMH adoption in the United Arab Emirates, from the mental health professional’s (MHP) perspective and from related literature.

Methods: A survey of literature on relevant studies addressing the use of technology for mental care in Arab countries, and a web-based questionnaire-based survey with 17 MHPs practicing in the United Arab Emirates investigating their attitudes and views toward CMH was conducted. Results from the questionnaire and from related studies were analyzed to develop the design framework.

Results: On the basis of findings from the literature survey and analyzing MHP answers to the web-based survey, a framework for the design of CMH solutions for the UAE population was developed. The framework presents four types of recommendation categories: favorable criteria, which included blended care, anonymity, and ease of use; cultural factors including availability in multiple languages, mainly Arabic and English, in addition to religious and cultural considerations; technical considerations, including good-quality communication, availability in formats compatible with mobile phones, and providing technical support; and users’ health and data safety considerations, including users’ suitability testing, confidentiality, and ensuring MHP integrity.

Conclusions: CMH has the potential to help overcome many mental care barriers in the United Arab Emirates in particular and in the Arab world in general. CMH adoption in the United Arab Emirates has a potential for success. However, many factors should be taken into account, mainly cultural, religious, and linguistic aspects.

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Series: JMIR formative research
ISSN: 2561-326X
ISSN-E: 2561-326X
ISSN-L: 2561-326X
Volume: 6
Issue: 2
Article number: e27675
DOI: 10.2196/27675
Type of Publication: A1 Journal article – refereed
Field of Science: 113 Computer and information sciences
Funding: This work is part of the Abu Dhabi Young Investigator Award 2019 (AYIA19-001) awarded by the Abu Dhabi Research and Development Authority and the Startup project (31T131) funded by the United Arab Emirates University.
Copyright information: © Nidal Drissi, Sofia Ouhbi, Leena Amiri, Fadwa Al Mugaddam, Reem K Jan, Minna Isomursu. Originally published in JMIR Formative Research (, 07.02.2022. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work, first published in JMIR Formative Research, is properly cited. The complete bibliographic information, a link to the original publication on, as well as this copyright and license information must be included.