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Kruzan Lab

kruzan-kaylee-23 Dr. Kaylee Kruzan is a mixed-methods researcher with a background in human-computer interaction and clinical social work. She is a Research Assistant Professor in the Department of Preventive Medicine and the Center for Behavioral Intervention Technologies (CBITs) in Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine and core faculty in NU's Center for Human-Computer Interaction + Design (HCI+D).

Dr. Kruzan’s research aims to leverage ubiquitous technologies to design theory-informed, accessible, and scalable digital mental health interventions (DMHI) to improve mental health outcomes for young people who are not treatment-engaged and who are under-represented in traditional treatment settings. She is particularly interested in developing digital resources for young people who engage in nonsuicidal self-injury and who are at high risk of suicide. If you are interested in learning more, collaborating, or joining the lab please feel free to reach out to her:

Current Projects

 Digital Mental Health Intervention for Nonsuicidal Self-Injury in Young Adults

Nonsuicidal self-injury (NSSI) is estimated to affect 13% of young adults and is associated with considerable burden, including significant role impairment in daily life, increased risk of developing a mental health disorder, and increased risk of future suicide. Timely interventions aimed at NSSI reduction could have a significant impact on improving mental health and suicide prevention. However, around 50% of young adults never disclose their NSSI to anyone, and far fewer ever seek professional help. Despite low rates of disclosure and engagement with formal mental healthcare, young people with NSSI report interest in, and receptivity to, digital mental health interventions (DMHIs). 

In this project, we aim to design, develop, and conduct a feasibility trial for a low-intensity DMHI for young adults with repeated NSSI, which can meet the need to provide services to individuals unlikely to engage in formal treatment. The intervention includes a highly interactive conversational agent and will tailor content and interactions to the user’s current state, by using ecological momentary assessment to assess NSSI risk and initiate relevant in-the-moment interventions to support users in implementing new coping strategies. 

In partnership with young adults with lived experience of nonsuicidal self-injury we will design and evaluate a low-intensity DMHI for young adults with repeated NSSI. The DMHI will include a highly interactive conversational agent and tailor content to the user’s current state, by using ecological momentary assessment to assess NSSI risk and initiate relevant in-the-moment interventions to support users in implementing new coping strategies.

For more information see:

Funding: R34MH128410-01

 Developing a Brief Severity Screening for Nonsuicidal Self-injury

Early screening and intervention is critical to identify NSSI and to measure treatment progress.  Yet, to date, there is no brief measure that assesses NSSI severity. A brief, well-validated screener would be useful in identifying NSSI in clinical settings, measuring progress during treatment, in research on NSSI, and as an outcome for clinical trials.

The overarching aim of this project is to establish a well-validated screener for NSSI. We will collect data and perform initial psychometric analyses that will allow us to determine the statistical parameters required to conduct a fully powered validation study. We will investigate, construct and discriminant validity, and identify preliminary estimates for cutoffs, sensitivity, specificity, and test-retest reliability of the NSSI screener.

To do so, we partner with Mental Health America (MHA), a mental health advocacy organization that hosts mental health screening tools on their website. In 2021, over 5 million people completed mental health screeners on the MHA website, of whom it is estimated that 29% are between the ages of 18-24 and 39% reported experiencing some sort of self-injurious thought within the last two weeks. Working with MHA to develop and disseminate the brief NSSI screener through their website will ensure that it reaches a large population of young people who are not yet engaged in treatment. (PI: Martin; Site PI: Spring). We are evaluating the impact of a capacity building initiative that aims to enhance the ability and interest of academic and community organizations to collaborate on research projects on health equity and chronic disease, as well as to use data in their research.

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