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Title: Apps With Maps - Anxiety and Depression Mobile Apps With Evidence-Based Frameworks: Systematic Search of Major App Stores
Contributor(s): Marshall, Jamie M (author); Dunstan, Debra A  (author)orcid ; Bartik, Warren  (author)orcid 
Publication Date: 2020-06-24
Open Access: Yes
DOI: 10.2196/16525
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Abstract: Background: Mobile mental health apps have become ubiquitous tools to assist people in managing symptoms of anxiety and depression. However, due to the lack of research and expert input that has accompanied the development of most apps, concerns have been raised by clinicians, researchers, and government authorities about their efficacy.
Objective: This review aimed to estimate the proportion of mental health apps offering comprehensive therapeutic treatments for anxiety and/or depression available in the app stores that have been developed using evidence-based frameworks. It also aimed to estimate the proportions of specific frameworks being used in an effort to understand which frameworks are having the most influence on app developers in this area.
Methods: A systematic review of the Apple App Store and Google Play store was performed to identify apps offering comprehensive therapeutic interventions that targeted anxiety and/or depression. The PRISMA (Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses) checklist was adapted to guide this approach.
Results: Of the 293 apps shortlisted as offering a therapeutic treatment for anxiety and/or depression, 162 (55.3%) mentioned an evidence-based framework in their app store descriptions. Of the 293 apps, 88 (30.0%) claimed to use cognitive behavioral therapy techniques, 46 (15.7%) claimed to use mindfulness, 27 (9.2%) claimed to use positive psychology, 10 (3.4%) claimed to use dialectical behavior therapy, 5 (1.7%) claimed to use acceptance and commitment therapy, and 20 (6.8%) claimed to use other techniques. Of the 162 apps that claimed to use a theoretical framework, only 10 (6.2%) had published evidence for their efficacy.
Conclusions: The current proportion of apps developed using evidence-based frameworks is unacceptably low, and those without tested frameworks may be ineffective, or worse, pose a risk of harm to users. Future research should establish what other factors work in conjunction with evidence-based frameworks to produce efficacious mental health apps.
Publication Type: Journal Article
Source of Publication: JMIR Mental Health, 7(6), p. 1-11
Publisher: JMIR Publications, Inc
Place of Publication: Canada
ISSN: 2368-7959
Field of Research (FoR) 2008: 170106 Health, Clinical and Counselling Psychology
Field of Research (FoR) 2020: 520304 Health psychology
520303 Counselling psychology
520302 Clinical psychology
Socio-Economic Objective (SEO) 2008: 920410 Mental Health
Socio-Economic Objective (SEO) 2020: 200409 Mental health
Peer Reviewed: Yes
HERDC Category Description: C1 Refereed Article in a Scholarly Journal
Appears in Collections:Journal Article
School of Health
School of Psychology

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