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Smartphone Applications for Mental Health—A Rapid Review

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Objectives: The purpose of this article is to determine what evidence exists about the effectiveness of monitoring and managing mental health via smartphone application. This study aims to inform health care decision makers of available evidence as well as the necessary components and potential barriers to success.

Methods: A rapid review was conducted which yielded eleven primary research studies evaluating nine unique smartphone applications.

Results: The literature demonstrated many benefits of smartphone applications for mental health including: positive perceptions and experiences by patients and doctors as well as their willingness to use the applications to impact their mental health. Further benefits include the apps ability to provide valid and detailed symptom monitoring, to apply proven psychotherapy methods, to improve access to care and to positively impact clinical outcomes. A potential barrier to success addressed by the literature is ensuring patients’ long-term adherence to this treatment method. Key success factors to delivering effective mental health care via a smartphone app include individually tailored apps, adaptive learning, a feedback system, and clinical, peer and technical support.

Conclusions: Preliminary outcomes in this area seem promising. However, there is a limited amount of high-quality research studies and more rigorous scientific investigation into this area is needed.

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