Despite the widespread use of smartphone apps, there have been no studies to date looking at the use of smartphone apps for depression. However, a new study titled “Depression screening via a smartphone app: cross-country user characteristics and feasibility” published recently in the journal of American Medical Informatics association aimed to answer the following questions: (1) Are smartphone users looking for depression screening apps, and do they use them? (2) What are their characteristics, and how do they use the app? (3) Do smartphone users need depression intervention apps?
In this study, 8241 users from Apple’s App Store downloaded our ‘Depression Monitor’ app from 66 countries. There were a large number of participants between 82.5% and 66.8% with a higher risk of depression yet undiagnosed. Mostly form Australia, US, UK, New Zealand, Canada, and Singapore.
In addition, the app was able to reach a group of participants who were at risk of suicide. In a recent study, responses to Item 9 of the PHQ-9 were a strong predictor of suicide attempts. About one third of app users in this study with a PHQ-9 greater than 15 answered ‘nearly every day’ to the PHQ-9 suicidal ideation statement (Item 9), which shows that smartphone depression screening can reach those at risk of suicide and may be useful to target them for interventions to prevent suicide.
This study has shown that a large number of people from different countries were searching for, and willing to use, a depression screening app. It has also shown that many people were willing to share sensitive data about their health through a secure and anonymous smartphone app.
Smart Health project (based in Sydney, Australia) is a not-for-profit project that was founded to develop various smartphone health apps for Apple iOS & Android. The project aims are: (1) to develop reusable health app templates that can be used for various health conditions and (2) to implement de-identified data extraction methods that can be used in smartphone health research.
For more information about this study please contact Nasser F BinDhim at firstname.lastname@example.org by Email.
Nasser F BinDhim