Research

New Research on Perceptions and Preferences in Mental Health App Design

By June 25, 2021No Comments

Assessing College Students’ Perceptions of and Intentions to Use a Mobile App for Mental Health

Mitchell KM, Holtz BE, McCarroll AM. Assessing College Students’ Perceptions of and Intentions to Use a Mobile App for Mental Health. Telemed J E Health. 2021 Jun 24. doi: 10.1089/tmj.2021.0106. Epub ahead of print. PMID: 34166099.

  • “College students face high rates of depression, anxiety, and suicide. Therefore, the focus of this study was to examine college students’ intention to use a mental health app provided by the university, called MySSP, through use of the unified theory of acceptance and use of technology (UTAUT).”
  • “An online survey was developed based on responses to focus groups previously conducted by the authors regarding MySSP. A multiple linear regression was conducted to test the associations between the UTAUT variables and behavioral intention. In addition, moderation analyses were conducted to explore the effects of depression, anxiety, stigma, and quality of life as moderators.”
  • “Results suggest that performance expectancy (PE) (t = 3.088, p = 0.003) and social influence (SI) (t = -2.163, p = 0.03) were the only significant predictors of behavioral intention.”
  • “This study provides an initial exploration of college students’ intentions to use MySSP. The results suggest that successful interventions include features related to PE (usefulness) and SI (norms), which should be focused on when developing and testing apps for mental health. Additionally, the stigma of mental health has significant negative impacts on the adoption of mental health apps and should be considered in implementation of mental health interventions geared toward college students.”

Acceptability and Effectiveness of Artificial Intelligence Therapy for Anxiety and Depression (Youper): Longitudinal Observational Study

Mehta A, Niles AN, Vargas JH, Marafon T, Couto DD, Gross JJ. Acceptability and Effectiveness of Artificial Intelligence Therapy for Anxiety and Depression (Youper): Longitudinal Observational Study. J Med Internet Res. 2021 Jun 22;23(6):e26771. doi: 10.2196/26771. PMID: 34155984.

  • “Youper is a widely used, commercially available mobile app that uses artificial intelligence therapy for the treatment of anxiety and depression.”
  • “Our study examined the acceptability and effectiveness of Youper. Further, we tested the cumulative regulation hypothesis, which posits that cumulative emotion regulation successes with repeated intervention engagement will predict longer-term anxiety and depression symptom reduction.”
  • “We examined data from paying Youper users (N=4517) who allowed their data to be used for research. To characterize the acceptability of Youper, we asked users to rate the app on a 5-star scale and measured retention statistics for users’ first 4 weeks of subscription. To examine effectiveness, we examined longitudinal measures of anxiety and depression symptoms. To test the cumulative regulation hypothesis, we used the proportion of successful emotion regulation attempts to predict symptom reduction.”
  • “Youper users rated the app highly (mean 4.36 stars, SD 0.84), and 42.66% (1927/4517) of users were retained by week 4. Symptoms decreased in the first 2 weeks of app use (anxiety: d=0.57; depression: d=0.46). Anxiety improvements were maintained in the subsequent 2 weeks, but depression symptoms increased slightly with a very small effect size (d=0.05). A higher proportion of successful emotion regulation attempts significantly predicted greater anxiety and depression symptom reduction.”
  • “Our findings demonstrate the acceptability and effectiveness of Youper as a treatment for anxiety and depression symptoms and support continued study of Youper in a randomized clinical trial.”

Development of a Mobile App to Support Self-Management of Anxiety and Depression in African American Women: A Usability Study

McCall T, Ali MO, Yu F, Fontelo P, Khairat S. Development of a Mobile App to Support Self-Management of Anxiety and Depression in African American Women: A Usability Study. JMIR Form Res. 2021 Jun 15. doi: 10.2196/24393. Epub ahead of print. PMID: 34133313.

  • “Anxiety and depressive disorders are the most common mental health conditions among African American women (AAW). Despite the need for mental health care, AAW significantly underutilize mental health services.”
  • “This study aimed to evaluate the usability of the prototype of an app designed to support self-management of anxiety and depression in AAW”
  • “Individual usability testing sessions were conducted with 15 participants in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. Cognitive walkthrough and a think-aloud protocol were used to evaluate the user interface. Eye tracking glasses were used to record participants’ visual focus and gaze path as they performed tasks. The Questionnaire for User Interface Satisfaction was administered following each session to assess participants’ acceptance of the app.
  • “Participants positively rated the usability of the prototype and provided recommendations for app improvement. The average of means scores for usability assessment (i.e., overall reactions to the software, screen, terminology and app information, learning, and app capabilities) ranged from 7.2 to 8.8 on a scale from 0 to 9 (low to high rating) for user tasks. Most participants were able to complete each task with limited or no assistance. Design recommendations included improving the user interface by adding graphics and color, adding a tutorial for first-time users, curating a list of Black women therapist within the app, adding details about tracking anxiety and depression in the check-up graphs, informing users that they can use the talk-to-text feature for journal entries to reduce burden, relabeling the mental health information icon, monitoring for crisis support, and improving clickthrough sequencing.”

Preferences in digital smartphone mental health applications among adolescents: a qualitative study

Ribanszki R, Saez Fonseca JA, Barnby JM, Jano K, Osmani F, Almasi S, Tsakanikos E. Preferences in digital smartphone mental health applications among adolescents: a qualitative study. JMIR Form Res. 2021 May 6. doi: 10.2196/14004. Epub ahead of print. PMID: 34128814.

  • “Mental health digital applications (apps) hold promise to provide scalable solutions to individual self-care, education, and illness prevention. However, a problem with these apps is that they lack engaging user interfaces and experiences, potentially resulting in high attrition. While guidelines for new digital interventions in adults have begun to examine engagement, there is a paucity of evidence on how to best address digital interventions in adolescents.”
  • “Our goal was to detect potential barriers to engagement and also to gather feedback on the current elements of app design regarding user experience and the user interface (UX/UI), and content.”
  • “The study employs a qualitative design. A sample of 14 adolescents were asked to use the app for a week and were interviewed using a semi-structured interview schedule. Interviews were transcribed and then analysed using thematic analysis.”
  • “13 participants completed the interviews. The authors developed six main themes and twenty sub-themes from the data that influenced engagement with and the perceived usefulness of the app. Our main themes were: ‘Timing’, ‘Stigma’, ‘Perception’, ‘Congruity’, ‘Usefulness’ and ‘User Experience (UX)’.”
  • “In convergence with previous research, we suggest how these aspects of app development should be considered in future apps aimed at preventing and managing mental health conditions.”

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