Researchers found low agreement between professionals’ and consumers’ reviews of mental health apps.
The study, published in JMIR, assessed 11 mental health apps using web surveys administered between December 2020 and April 2021. The apps assessed included Breethe, Calm, Headspace, Insight Timer Meditation, MindDoc, MindShift, Reflectly, Remente, Sanvello, Self-Help for Anxiety and Woebot.
Overall, researchers found more than half of the app ratings showed disagreement between the study participants and the professional ratings … One of the most important themes discussed by the study participants was cost, as many were frustrated when they reached a paywall or needed to pay for premium content. They also valued the ability to track and measure their progress as well as access to educational content, like information on coping mechanisms or symptoms … The highest number of participant negatives was for the domain ‘difficulties of use,’ suggesting that current professional ratings are overestimating the ease with which the apps can be used.
Comparing Professional and Consumer Ratings of Mental Health Apps: Mixed Methods Study (JMIR Formative Research). From the abstract:
- Background: As the number of mental health apps has grown, increasing efforts have been focused on establishing quality tailored reviews. These reviews prioritize clinician and academic views rather than the views of those who use them, particularly those with lived experiences of mental health problems…
- Objective: This study aimed to understand the opinions of people with mental health problems on mental health apps and how they differ from established ratings by professionals.
- Results: We found low agreement between the participants’ and professionals’ ratings. More than half of the app ratings showed disagreement between participants and professionals … Participants particularly valued certain aspects of mental health apps, which appear to be overlooked by professional reviewers. These included functions such as the ability to track and measure mental health and providing general mental health education. The cost of apps was among the most important factors for participants. Although this is already considered by professionals, this information is not always easily accessible.
The Study in Context:
- The National Academy of Medicine (NAM) shares discussion paper to help empower 8 billion minds via the ethical adoption of digital mental health
- The explosion of mental health apps raises substantial opportunities–and also difficult questions
- Consumer Reports finds unclear, questionable privacy practices and policies among popular mental health apps