Use of a mobile app to augment psychotherapy in a community psychiatric clinic: feasibility and fidelity trial

Atif Adam, Ameena Jain, Alexandra Pletnikova, Rishi Bagga, Allison Vita, Lisa N. Richey, Neda Gould, Supriya Munshaw, Kavi Misrilall, Matthew E. Peters

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Background: Even though 1 in 5 Americans experience some form of mental illness each year, 80% have been shown to discontinue psychotherapy prematurely. The traditional psychotherapy service delivery model, consisting of isolated clinical sessions, lacks the ability to keep patients engaged outside clinical sessions. Newer digital mental health platforms can address the clinical need for a robust tool that tracks mental well-being and improves engagement in patients with depressive symptoms. Objective: The primary goals of this feasibility study were to (1) assess compliance among providers and their patients with a digital mental health platform protocol, and (2) examine the usability and fidelity of a mobile app through structured participant feedback. Methods: A sample of 30 participants was recruited for a 5-week study from a community-based mental health clinic in Baltimore, Maryland, USA. Inclusion criteria were: aged 18 years or older, having access to a smartphone, and having at least mild-to-moderate depression and/or anxiety as measured by the Patient Health Questionnaire-9 (PHQ-9) and Generalized Anxiety Disorder-7 (GAD-7) scales, respectively. Eligible participants were randomized into one of two study arms: (1) the intervention arm or (2) the waitlist control arm. Participants in the intervention arm were asked to download the Rose app and were prompted to complete clinical assessments (PHQ-9 and GAD-7) every other week, daily mood and anxiety Likert scales, and daily journal entries. The participants in the waitlist arm served as controls for the study and completed the clinical assessments only. Both arms engaged in weekly psychotherapy sessions, with participant in-app input informing the psychotherapy process of the intervention arm, while those in the waitlist control arm continued their standard care. Outcomes of interest included adherence to completion of in-app assessments and usability of the Rose mobile app assessed through the modified Mobile Application Rating Scale. Results: Over the study period, a sample of 30 participants used the Rose app 2834 times to complete clinical assessments. On average, 70% (21; 95% CI 61.14%-77.41%) of participants completed mood and anxiety daily check-ins and journal entries 5 days per week. Nearly all participants (29/30, 97%) completed all PHQ-9 and GAD-7 in-app scales during the study. Subjective impressions showed that 73% (22/30) of participants found the mobile app to be engaging and in line with their needs, and approximately 70% (21/30) of participants reported the app functionality and quality of information to be excellent. Additionally, more than two-thirds of the participants felt that their knowledge and awareness of depression and anxiety management improved through using the app. Conclusions: Steady compliance and high app ratings showcase the utility of the Rose mobile mental health app in augmenting the psychotherapy process for patients with mood disorders and improving mental health knowledge. Future studies are needed to further examine the impact of Rose on treatment outcomes. Trial Registration: ClinicalTrials.gov NCT04200170; https://clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/NCT04200170.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere17722
JournalJMIR Formative Research
Volume4
Issue number7
DOIs
StatePublished - Jul 2020

Keywords

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Mental health
  • Mobile app

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health Informatics
  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Computer Science Applications

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