There has been no lack of news about how AI is redefining healthcare and improving patient outcomes for physical ailments. There has not been that much news, however, on how AI can help in the treatment of emotional or mental disorders.
Researchers have just released the results of a study in which they used AI to better predict suicide risk.
The scientists from Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) and Harvard Medical School-affiliated McLean Hospital in Belmont conducted a study assessing the use of AI to predict and gain a better understanding of suicide and the mechanisms and emotional states that drive self-injury.
This particular study targeted women because, according to the CDC, death by suicide is increasing at an alarming rate among women. The group of researchers developed an algorithm that was designed to predict suicide attempts among participants and identify subgroups of patients who were at the highest risk of entering a suicidal mindset.
They then used AI approaches to cluster data to expose any existing patterns. The patterns revealed a broad set of dissociative symptoms, such as the lack of connection between one’s sense of self and the environment. This was often due to trauma, the researchers said.
Following this step, researchers trained an algorithm to distinguish between patients with various dissociation levels and the 30 healthy controls. They found that this tool could zero in on specific dissociative symptoms, predicting previous suicide attempts with an accuracy of nearly 90% percent.
Aside from AI being able to predict thoughts of self-harm and previous suicide attempts accurately, researchers also noted that the study emphasized the need for clinicians to assess patients for dissociative disorder symptoms.
“We’re trying to say that among these hundreds of symptoms and indicators, our results suggest these two or three symptoms may be helpful to focus in on,” said Dmitry Korkin, Ph.D., the Harold L. Jurist ’61 and Heather E. Jurist Dean’s Professor of Computer Science at WPI, one of the lead researchers on the project.
The key takeaway from this study is that it is one of the first to show that AI-driven programs can give clinicians predictive and theoretically preventive tools for mental illnesses, just as they are already doing in practice for many physical disorders.
How BigRio Helps Bring Advanced AI Solutions to Healthcare
The WPI research is one of the few studies that are now showing that AI has predictive value in mental health, just as it has already been put into practice in improving physical conditions. In fact, improving disease detection and diagnostics – whether that be physical, and now we see mental health — is the area where AI is making one of the technology’s biggest impacts.
BigRio prides itself on being a facilitator and incubator for such advances in leveraging AI to improve diagnostics.
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You can read much more about how AI is redefining healthcare delivery and drug discovery in my new book Quantum Care: A Deep Dive into AI for Health Delivery and Research. It’s a comprehensive look at how AI and machine learning are being used to improve healthcare delivery at every touchpoint.
Rohit Mahajan is a Managing Partner with BigRio. He has a particular expertise in the development and design of innovative solutions for clients in Healthcare, Financial Services, Retail, Automotive, Manufacturing, and other industry segments.
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